I’ve had bad luck with paranormals in the past. I always hope for the best but often find the stories being too cute. Not so with Danegeld. Susan Squires does an admirable job of portraying life in the middle ages accurately, and there wasn’t a talking animal or cloudy crystal ball in sight.
Britta lives a solitary life on the Island of Deofric. At the age of fifteen, the cruel Saxon leader Offra robbed Britta, not only of her family but her virginity and magic powers as well. She has lived alone ever since with only her dog for company. When the story begins she is healing people in Dunford who have been injured in a recent Viking raid, lead by Karn. Britta finds Karn, beaten, violated and left to die by Offra and his men, and nurses him back to health. Karn is not only wounded physically, but emotionally. He feels impotent as a warrior and sees no other reason for living.
It is a credit to Squires that she is able to create such interesting and complex characters. Britta is one of the strongest fictional women I have read about in a long time. She could kick Laura Croft’s butt. Karn is a mix of machismo and vulnerability. The chemistry between the two is smoldering, and they have very real emotional barriers to overcome. There are obvious differences, but they are also alike in that they are strong individuals who have been hurt badly by Offra.
The grittiness of this book surprised me at every turn, from the life-changing incident of Britta’s childhood, her physical and emotional struggles to control and come to terms with her magic powers, and the shocking turn in the relationship with her mentor.
As much as I enjoy a frothy comedy, it is so refreshing to read a book that doesn’t gloss over ugly realities. There is a lot of violence and pain and un-prettiness in this book, but Squires gives it to us straight and lets the readers decide if they can handle it. I truly hope in time she reaches the rising star status she deserves.
|Review Date:||August 18, 2001|
|Book Type:||Historical Romance | Viking Romance|
|Review Tags:||Dark Ages | Viking|