A witch. A murder. A curse…
Beneath the murky waters of the lake, an ancient being slumbers, and Brygida is its servant. Kept sheltered in the woods by her mothers from the nearby village, Brygida has never had so much as a friend—until the day she meets a charming stranger painting by the lake. He invites her to the village’s harvest feast, but her taste of the forbidden ends with a murder.
Called into service for the first time, Brygida must take up her ancestral duty as Reaper of Death and solve the murder within three days. If she brings the murderer to the lake on the third day, the being she serves will be sated. If she fails, Brygida herself will be drawn beneath the murky waters, and the village massacred. There’s only one problem: the main suspect is her charming painter, Kaspian.
As Brygida investigates, the dangers are many and answers few. The village and her family stand against her, and with time running short, the lake demands a price. Brygida believes Kaspian is innocent, but can she stake her life on it, when failure means condemning the rest of the village, and being dragged into the deep…?
Amazon Link: Feast of the Mother (Witch of the Lake #1)
Author: Miranda Honfleur & Nicolette Andrews
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
Rating: 5/5 stars
You may think you’ve read this story before: A young woman who has been kept apart from the world by overprotective parents decides to break the rules and explore, and the first person she happens to meet is a charming young man. And some of these elements will feel familiar from the early part of the story. But it quickly changes into a unique twist on a murder mystery when that charming young man is accused of killing another girl and Brygida must take up the sacred duty of serving justice. She has to sort through the many different prejudices and emotions of people in the town to find the truth.
Part of what makes this story unusual is the setting, based on Slavic folklore. I was familiar with a few types of magical creatures here like the rusalki but there were even more that I’ve never encountered. It was fascinating to read about the magic of the forest and the lake. The world-building is very rich and immersive, even though it only focused on one small town.
The story had a strong theme of justice for women who have been harmed by men, including rape, domestic violence, and murder. But it also cautions against jumping to conclusions too quickly and blaming people based on rumors or circumstantial evidence. It also explores the complicated mixture of emotions that surrounds these types of crimes. When women live in fear, the ripples can spread through a whole community and the effects can be felt for generations.
LGBT representation: the main character, Brygida, has two mothers in a loving relationship. They may have a special status because they’re witches and live apart from the village, but no one questions their right to be together. Not what I was expecting in a Dark Ages setting so it was a refreshing element.
I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of ancient pagan folklore, a measured story about #MeToo in a Dark Ages setting, and supernatural murder mysteries.