Cover Image: Brightfall

Brightfall

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Member Reviews

This was an interesting fantasy novel focusing on Maid Marion and was a story that was a mix of action scenes and intrigue and straight drama. Marion was an interesting character and she was well rounded and layered for the most part. I thought the writing style was good but there were a couple of places that it could have been edited to either make it a little clearer or make the sentence more concise and with a better flow.
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This was an original and exciting twist on the well-known and ever-told legend of Robin Hood. I was swept along with the adventures and completely immersed in the world of the book. I'm keen to see what the author does next.
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3.75 Stars

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for an  arc of this book.

This was an enjoyable read!
Robin Hood, curses, the fae and magic are mixed together in a really unique way, and I really enjoyed the mixture of source material and new ideas. This wasn't quite a retelling as it was set after the original stories of Robin Hood, so it added something special to this story.

Brightfall mixed English folklore at its best with a compelling story filled with grief, revenge, magic and wit. It had a really beautifully written magic system based on herbal magic and hedge witchcraft, and I really enjoyed it. It felt natural and realistic when mixed with robin hood and was different from the fae magic shown, which I felt was important.

Because this book was based on a journey, a large part of the focus was on characters, their interactions and growth. I loved Bert, who made this book so much more captivating for me. I wanted to know is motivation and learn more about him, as well as finding him amusing and interesting. Marian was a great heroine, and I enjoyed following her journey. She was capable, strong and well written. She tried her hardest and pushed through her grief and pain to do what was needed of her. Her love for her children and friends was beautiful to read. The juxtaposition of Marian and Robin was an almost role reversal of the original story, which was really refreshing. The cast of characters was fairly small but all of them really added something to the story, and so Brightfall was journey of character development as well as having an intriguing plot.

Some small things that lowered the rating for me were that code names kept being used despite the fact we knew the characters names (and so did everyone else). The archer. The warrior. The demisang. It didn't make sense to me that this continued through the whole book long after everyone had exchanged names and established archetypes. It ended up being a bit jarring and stopped the immersion for me. I also wasn't a fan of the romance, as I felt it was a little too soon, even if it wasn't fully formed. I also felt the ending was a bit rushed, as there were a few things mentioned in the final scenes that hadn't been explored, and came out of nowhere, but I would have liked more information and more explanation.

Overall I very much enjoyed this book and think it was a really great read. I loved so many elements of this and would definitely recommend it!
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A wonderful mash-up of genres, this felt like a cosy murder mystery wrapped in an historical fantasy as some well known characters from the legend of Robin Hood get entangled with faery land. I loved following Marian the witch, she kept the story light and hopeful even when things got rather dark at times. It's a little predictable in places, especially regarding the culprit, but I still really enjoyed it. 

(ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley)
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In Jaime Lee Moyer’s new novel Brightfall, the woman previously known as Maid Marian is a hedgewitch. What’s more, she’s a hedgewitch of rare talent and training. And all her skill will be needed when word reaches her that Robin Hood’s gang of Merry Men—now more than ten years disbanded—are dying in mysterious circumstances. What’s worse, an innocent six year-old boy has been killed too.

As a member of the once-vibrant fandom for the BBC’s late Robin Hood TV show, this novel brought up a lot of feels for me. I still eat up anything to do with Robin Hood like an ice cream sundae, so I was excited to get my hands on a review copy for Brightfall. And imagine my delight when I discovered it was all about Marian—and not only that, but that Marian was a badass witch.

In Moyer’s novel, it’s been over ten years since the Merry Men ceased their outlawry and went their separate ways. Marian is the only one who remains in Sherwood Forest, living alone in a cottage deep in the woods along with her twin children, Kate and Robbie.

The twins’ father is Robin of Locksley, Robin Hood that was, but he didn’t stick around to see them born or raised. Marian’s sole comfort and lover these past twelve years has instead been Will Scarlet, Robin’s brother in this story.

It’s so refreshing to see not only a protagonist who’s a single mother, but one who is a woman as nuanced and rich with interior life as Moyer paints Marian.

Of course, of course Marian’s prime motivation is the safety of her kids—but she has other worries too. The loss of her partner, Will, weighs heavy on her, as she refuses to banish his shade from haunting her. She cares, and cares deeply, for the others who cross her path. And she has difficult decisions to make on her quest to discover who is responsible for the the curse that is killing Robin Hood’s old associates.

Said curse is Marian’s impetus to leave Sherwood and her children behind and light out on the road. But she’s not going alone. Big-hearted Father Tuck saddles her with a protector—and it’s none other than Robin of Locksley himself. And my goodness, he’s an absolute wanker.

Luckily, Marian collects other companions along the way. And her tour through Nottinghamshire and beyond is downright fascinating. The history in Moyer’s novel feels so rich it seems to bubble up from the page. The Roman occupation is fresh on the land, ghosts of the time haunting Marian on her journey. And more recent events have taken their toll—Richard the Lionheart’s Holy War and its tithe of young men, and his brother John Lackland’s penchant for hunting and carousing in Nottinghamshire have both had their effects on the countryside and on the characters.

If Marian is the heart of Brightfall, noted tosspot Robin of Locksley is the key to the story. I don’t want to say too much, but I will say that while Marian is striving to uncover the secrets and hurts that led to the vengeance being enacted on her erstwhile friends, Robin, her reluctant guardian, seems invested in keeping quiet.

I spent much of the book wondering when Robin was going to step into the limelight and reveal his motivations for being quite such a heel. (As I said, the Robin Hood fandom had long-since biased me toward thinking of Robin as a total twat.) But I realised that that’s not the point. This story doesn’t belong to the famous Robin Hood—it belongs to Marian. So when its revealed that all of the mess they’re in can be laid at the feet of a man’s failure to face up to his responsibilities, it’s not him who’ll save the day—but Marian.

While I enjoyed Brightfall, after I closed the book (metaphorically—I’m using an eReader, of course) some questions remained. A lot happened during the events of the story—encountering friends old and new, saving people, failing to save people—and I was still thinking about them even as the story wrapped up.

The one at the forefront of my mind was about the nature of the curse. It’s hinted at early on that each of the victims of the curse died staring into a reflective surface. My mystery-solving brain went into overdrive, anticipating occult details about the way the outlaws died. But if that got confirmed, I don’t remember it.

There’s more. What happened to the kids in the baskets? They appear, we start to care about their fate, and a couple of pages later are gone, hand-waved away. And I’m still not clear whether a certain character was another’s consort or brother (or consort’s brother?), down to the awkward inability to use real names while the Fae are about.

Despite the occasional lack of clarity, I’d thoroughly recommend Brightfall for a fun, charming quest around ancient Nottinghamshire. It’s got many of the ingredients I love in a fantasy—a deep sense of place, a fleshed-out magic system, and a main character you want to spend more time with.
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I love a good Robin Hood tale. I'll watch every film, every TV series and read every book. I particularly enjoyed the way that this one focused on Marion above all, it was such a nice change. However, my problem comes from the fact that this so heavily focuses on Marion's children, and that's just not my thing. It's completely on me, I read the synopsis and knew what I was getting into, but I thought I'd try anyway. I just don't like it when interesting female characters are made pregnant or given children and this becomes their whole motivation. But like I said, that's just a "me" problem. The book as a whole is fun and I think will appeal to anyone who's a fan of the Robin Hood legend.
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I liked the concept for this far more than I did the delivery. Set twelve years on from the understood events of Robin Hood’s adventures (and let’s face it there’s around eight centuries of re-workings, retellings, discrepancies and mash ups before you hit the golden age of Hollywood and Errol Flynn) this sees Marian living as a village wise woman in the shade of an oak. (Yes, THAT oak. The ‘Robin Hood oak’ that stands on the edge of a common and is close to being 900 yrs old today.) She and Robin have separated and she is caring for their two young children. Robin, meanwhile, has entered a monastery to atone for his sins. If you know anything about Medieval monasteries, especially in 12th C England, you’ll be aware that they weren’t so much adjuncts of the Church, as places for wealthy young men to room and board. Obviously not all of them were the same but monks and priests married right up until 15th C and poverty was more an option than a vow. So this is a somewhat laughable idea for Robin – even if he ever thought he had committed any sins. Although Robin Hood as portrayed in this book is a grade A dick so maybe the amazingly self-involved act of abandoning his family in favour perceived spiritual superiority fits? It’s a new angle on the Robin Hood myth at least so it has that going for it. And then fae and dragons and sentient animals turn up. I like the idea of a fantasy murder mystery – the inciting incident is that Marian finds out someone is killing off the Merry Men. I didn’t love the execution. TBH selling me on Marian and Robin splitting up was going to be hard (but not impossible – Leia and Han Solo!) There just didn’t seem to be much depth to the characters. I get wanting to show Robin as flawed – he is a flawed character in mythology, let’s face it you don’t break all your vows of fealty and start attacking your countrymen without being pretty arrogant, no matter how good your intentions. Here, he was just annoying and whiny. Marian was exasperated and self-righteous. I’ve seen this done before – BBC children’s comedy drama , Maid Marian and her Merry Men which did it much better IMO. In conclusion there was a lot to like here but as a whole it was kind of a mess. And that’s before you take the massive geographical errors into account. I’m all for playing fast and loose with geography to facilitate better storytelling, but you’ve got to show your reader that’s what you’re doing. (Or mention it in an author note). Otherwise people who know the area and the history get annoyed. Those who want a different RH retelling/ follow on and aren’t too worried about the history, folklore or geography will probably really enjoy this. Few too many jarring contrasts with my head canon and knowledge for me.
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Many, many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy of this book. This book was such a delight; I'm so grateful for the opportunity to read it.

This book is set twelve years after the events of the traditional Robin Hood story. It is narrated by Marian who is a delightful, interesting and vibrant character. Someone is killing her friends and due to her proficiency in the craft, she is tasked with helping to uncover the culprit. The description of Sherwood forest is lyrical and highly evocative and the magic feels organic and totally believable.

The feel of this book reminded me strongly of Robin McKinley and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to fans of this type of work.
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Jaime Lee Moyer's Brightfall is a fantasy novel inspired by Robin Hood. Rather than revisiting the familiar legends, it's set some twelve years later, when the Merry Men have settled back into normal life. Robin has retreated into a monastery, abandoning Marian to bring up their two children without him. Her peaceful life in the forest with her children is interrupted when she receives the news that several of her old friends have died in mysterious circumstances. Abbot Tuck suspects a curse, and asks Marian to use her magical powers and craft to track down the killer.

I liked this a lot; it's an enjoyable new take on a well-known story, with an engaging plot and interesting, likeable characters. (And of course, I'm always predisposed to like fantasy with older female protagonists.) Moyer mixes the Robin Hood legends with fairytale elements; magic, mythical beasts and a Fae Court that reminded me of 'Thomas the Rhymer' to tell a story about love and loss and moving on. I had some minor niggles, both historical (I don't think a 13th-century miller would actually be selling flour, rather than the services of the mill) and geographical (it being two full days' walk from Hucknall, north of Nottingham, to Mansfield, when Google Maps tells me they're only nine miles apart), but they certainly weren't enough to stop me enjoying the novel. I don't think it's necessarily a book that will stay with me for a long time, but I was in the mood for some fluffy, undemanding fantasy, and this definitely fit the bill.

(I would note that Brightfall does include the death of a child, so may not seem as fluffy to those who are sensitive to that in books.)

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a free eARC for review.
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Jaime Lee Moyer revisits the story of Robin Hood in her new novel Brightfall. Set twelve years after the events that are commonly known from the folk tales, Brightfall takes a more fantastical approach to the material and is also a murder mystery of sorts, a combination that Moyer manages to slip easily into the setting.
The book opens with Marian, who lives with her two children in the heart of Sherwood Forest receiving some devastating news. Will Scarlett is dead from mysterious causes. This is just one of many deaths of the gang that used to run with them (the Merry Men), deaths that include the young son of their old compatriot, John . Abbot Tuck suspects sourcery and Marian being a witch, her believes that she can help investigate. On her way to see him, Marian pauses to commune with the Fae, seeking their protection for her children. And when she arrives she is partnered with her estranged husband Robin, who years before had sought an annulment of their marriage and took himself to a monastery.
As Marian and Robin start to investigate the deaths they find evidence of dangerous magic associated with the fairy folk. The pair pick up travelling companions as they go including the consort of the fairy queen, a former soldier, a dog and a fox. All of these are needed as they face off against a range of mythical creatures (griffins, grindylows) and evil magic in their search for the killers. 
By focussing on Marian, Moyer gives a new twist and insight into the original Robin Hood story without rehashing it or slavishly following it. The biggest problem with this book is the character of Robin – moody, rude and unhelpful despite the threat to his family and old friends. While this, and his history with Marian, is eventually explained, it is a tough trip to get there.
Brightfall is an interesting mix of genres. Historical, traditional fantasy with a hint of murder mystery thrown in. The fantasy elements fundamentally confound the mystery elements. Once the fae character, who can see glimpses of the future, is introduced it feels like the die is cast. He constantly makes suggestions, who should join them and where they should go, because of this power, which drive the plot forward. He also, as it turns out, knows exactly what is going on but feels it is better if Marian works it out for herself. So that much of the middle section of the book becomes Marian’s journey of discovery of information that other characters she is travelling with knew all along, which makes it feel a little frustrating in retrospect.
By playing with a well known folk tale and twists it in new and interesting directions through fantastical folk elements, Brightfall is generally an effective and original fantasy.
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I can imagine the pitch for this book. What if… Maid Marian was a witch, and Robin Hood had fairies? It sounds like it shouldn’t really work on paper, but it really does. In this alternate universe, the Merry Men have disbanded. Ten years later, Marian has two children by Robin, but Robin ran off and left her a few months before they were born.

Now, the Merry Men are dying, and Marian wants to get to the bottom of it, before her own children come into danger. It’s time to find Robin again- even if he doesn’t want to speak to her- and dive into the world of the fae.

This is definitely a fun take on the Robin Hood myth. Setting the whole thing ten years after the Merry Men have disbanded gives the whole book a weight that it probably wouldn’t otherwise have. All the characters have baggage, which makes their exchanges a lot more fun to read about, as you try and unpick a relationship ten years in the making.

That relationship becomes a lot more complicated when it comes to Robin. My only (slight) quibble is that in this version of events he’s a bitter old man who despises Marian and everything she stands for. For the first half of the book, this is fun. But for the rest, it gets tired, and it stretches credulity. Why would Marian have been with him in the first place if he hated her so much? And though Moyer attempts to redeem Robin towards the end of the book, it comes too little, too late. It would have been fun to poke some more chinks in his armour earlier on, so he and Marian could develop their relationship a little more.

That aside, I loved everything else about the novel. Moyer seamlessly blends medieval England with the world of the fae: Nottingham is invaded by malicious faeries, Marian must navigate the complex world of court alliances, and they are joined on their quest by a mysterious fae Lord who takes pleasure in teasing Robin. And while the ending is a tad predictable, it’s still a good read.
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I loved this set-up. Robin has retreated to a monastery, deserting his wife and children after mysteriously going missing. Marion manages to provide a living for herself and the twins by selling her salves and potions, as well as doing a bit of healing as a respected witch. In fact it’s this reputation that brings Abbot Tuck to her door, urgently requesting her help with reports that much-loved friends have died in mysterious circumstances.

Moyer effectively establishes Marion’s character so that I quickly bonded with her, feeling her anger and pain over Robin’s desertion, alongside her gritted determination to go on providing a good life for her children. The medieval world is well depicted and provides a strong backdrop for the magical shenanigans that are going on. The stakes steadily rise as it becomes apparent that this enemy attacking and destroying Robin’s former comrades, or those dearest to them, is using dark, powerful magic. I liked the fact that Marion isn’t some super-powerful practitioner, but also needs extra help from one of the Fae court, determined to uncover who is prepared to murder children to garner yet more twisted power.

Marion is forced to leave her own children behind as she goes on a desperate quest to hunt down this shadowy magic-user – and is also forced to spend time alongside Robin… Will the danger they are in give them a chance to get together once again? I was intrigued to see if this would happen – and you’ll have to read the book to find out.

There was plenty of action and danger in this gripping read. But alongside all the adventure, there was a strong poignant sadness for a brave band of young men fired up by the wicked injustice of King John’s rule to help those poorer than themselves, accompanied by an equally brave young woman whose craft kept them out of the hands of the Kings men more than once… Life hasn’t been kind to the main protagonists in those tales – and while I rolled my eyes at Robin’s behaviour, I was also aware that the terrible situation he found himself in required a different form of bravery. The kind that those endowed with lots of physical courage often lack…

This one has stayed with me since I finished reading it and while there are a couple of minor niggles – which I don’t want to discuss as they drift into Spoiler territory – it wasn’t a dealbreaker. This is a gripping adventure with a haunting backstory which I hope will lead to a second book in this intriguing world. The ebook arc copy of Brightfall was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest opinion of the book.
9/10
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Brightfall is a really difficult novel for me to rate and review. I thought this was a definite 5 star read for the first third or so of the book, it started out so strongly. Unfortunately, I hardly wanted to pick up the book by the half way point.

Brightfall is a part murder mystery, part Robin Hood retelling told from the perspective of Robin’s ex-wife, Maid Marian. The story is set in the depths of the enchanted Sherwood Forest, which is ruled by Fae and filled to the brim with malicious creatures.  When Marin receives news that the Merry Men and their families are being murdered, she is sent on a mission to use her skills as a witch to unravel the mystery. Sounds dark and promising, right? (NB: there is a child death which is explored in a bit of detail, if this is a trigger you are sensitive to).

The story introduces us to vixens, a talking dragon that guards over the forest, and many different kinds of dark Fae. The beginning of the story set the premise for a dark and dangerous fantasy with so many unique elements, and for me all of these elements fell short. Like other reviewers noted, we are told how dangerous these Fae are, and they pose the greatest risk to the characters, yet every time Marian encounters them in the story she hardly breaks a sweat. There is almost no actual danger in this story, I felt no tension or concern for the characters at all. As another example, the dragon who was introduced at the start (who you would assume would then play a role in the story) essentially eventuated into nothing. For me, this book introduced so many intriguing elements and then didn’t deliver on the plot at all. I also had issues with the pacing, it was painfully slow and the plot was disjointed and transparent by the half way point. 

The descriptive writing in this story is beautiful, and that’s what makes this such a difficult review. It was well written, and the effort the author put into researching the mythology of Robin Hood is evident. I also liked the spin the author put on the characters and her unique take on retelling the well known story. Perhaps if I wasn’t expecting a dark story I would feel differently, and maybe this is more of an individual issue. Reviews seem to indicate that a lot of people thoroughly enjoyed this book, so I wouldn’t discourage you from reading it. It just fell flat for me personally, and I wouldn't go into this thinking you're in store for a dark retelling.
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Not all is well in Nottingham forest. Several ex-Merry Men,companions of Robin Hood, and their family members are found dead. The circumstances are a bit suspicious as they are all found staring in the void without any visible cause of death. Robin has left his Marian(and their two children )some twelve years previously and entered a monastery(where Brother Tuck is the abbot).Why he did so is not very clear,at least not at the beginning..So Brother Tuck asks Marian, who is a wise woman with the "sight", to find some information. This quickly leads her to the Fae,basically a parallel world inhabited by,of course the Fae,but which is also steeped in rather amazing magic. The Lady Fae also asks Marian for her help because they too are worried about those killings. So an improbable fellowship is formed:Marian, a very reluctant Robin,Jack,a family member of one of the victims,Bert,a rather flamboyant Fae,Birgit,a real vixen and Julian,a more than adorable dog.
This is basically an adventure story immersed in magic,extraordinary powers and a bit more magic. It has so much potential but it is a bit long winded. When Marian encounters yet another site of dark (or not) magic the details are so extensive that they interfere with the flow and the rhythm of the story which is a pity because it is really a good storyline. But nobody wants to skip passages because they are not always relevant or even very interesting. 
That said,the flow picks up at the very end  but leaves the reader with some serious questions. I could be wrong,but I think a follow up is a possibility...
So,all in all,good storyline,interesting characters but way,way too much descriptions and details.
3,5 stars
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Having been abandoned by her husband Robin Hood twelve years previously, Marian lives in the forest with her children. She leads a quiet life, practicing her craft and caring for her family. Marian’s life is turned upside down when old friend Father Tuck gives her the devastating news that many of their old friends have recently been found dead. With her gift of magic, Marian is the only one of their surviving friends able to discover and deal with whoever is responsible for the deaths. Tuck sends Marian on a quest for truth, with estranged husband Robin sent to protect her. Along the way they pick up further mismatched companions; a jaded soldier and a Fey lord.  

I really enjoyed this book. The story is well-paced and very readable. It takes familiar characters from myth and adds strong fantasy elements; fantastic creatures, magic, and the intrigue of the Fey court. Although the shared past of the familiar characters brings them together for the story, the events take place after any Robin Hood stories that I’m familiar with so it almost felt that the characters could have been anyone and the story would still have worked. That being said, the famous Sherwood Forest is a character itself and a huge part of the story. 

I loved the magic system and lore of the story and how Marian’s use of magic was described. I also really liked Marian as a character, and felt empathy for her with her sorrows, fears, and small joys. I also really enjoyed the Fey Lord character, who is a well-written, captivating trickster. It was interesting to see the famous character Robin Hood in such a different state to other portrayals; now a fearful, repentant, man of God. 

The setting is vivid with the sense of magic, mystery and increasing danger in the forest. I thought the historical elements were well-incorporated, with the descriptions of the towns and religious buildings. 

I’m not sure if this book would appeal to all fans of the Robin Hood myth, particularly as the Robin in this story is a shell of his former self. And the mentions and meetings of the former Merry Men are quite brief. However, I would recommend it to fans of the character of Marian, and to anyone who enjoys mysteries full of magic, danger, and intrigue. 

Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title.
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I was never interested in the portrayal of world of Robin of Sherwood, however throw in a large dose of magic, Fae, murder and mayhem and I am quite besotted. Brightfall is a joy to read. The imagery is beautiful, the characters so well scripted and the storyline intriguing. The power play and relationships between good Fae, evil Fae, witches, those with “the sight” and mere mortals revealed throughout the novel works so well. Every character receives the attention and respect they are due; I particularly love Bridget as I’m a sucker for mischievous foxes. The description of the woodland is so sublime I feel like I have just travelled the lanes of Sherwood both real and Fae - the sign of a brilliant book. I hope it gets the plaudits it deserves. I’ll definitely look out for the next offering from this author.
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Brightfall is a retelling of the story of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, and what a spectacular historical fantasy it was. I adored the fact that Marian was the central character and with her personality traits it's difficult not to admire her; strong, independent and opinionated protagonists always grab my attention. The weaving together of the fantasy and real worlds is done seamlessly and Moyer's prose is nothing less than mesmerising making this a pure pleasure to read. Right from the beginning, I was drawn into an immersive world of myth and legend; it's very entertaining as well as having an intense, exciting plot and relatable characters.

Where the book lacks in pace it makes up for in action, intrigue and a cast of diverse people. This is basically a thrilling murder mystery set primarily in the world of the Fae and has that wonderful fairy-tale vibe to it. There are twists upon twists upon twists and they just keep on blindsiding you every time; I don't quite know how Moyer did it! There are often times when authors either neglect the plot in order to focus on character development or vice versa, but not here; I found the attention to detail was excellent for almost everything. I was genuinely depressed when I came to the end as I wanted to inhabit this crazy, cosy world for longer. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Jo Fletcher for an ARC.
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I fell in love with the cover and then I fell in love with this book.
I was hooked after a few pages and couldn't put it down till the end.
It's a mix of fantasy, old legends, and women's fiction. I loved all the part but I was impress by the attention to the relationship, the family, and the changes and path to healing of the characters.
The world building is interesting because it is based on the Robin Hood legend but with a modern take.
Robin Hood is not the perfect hero we learnt to love but an anguished and complex man, a man that has to face his own demons and not hiding behind the religion.
Marian is a strong women who is trying to stop the killing of her friends and to heal ancient and new wounds.
There's a lot of characters development and all the characters are fleshed out and well written.
The world building is fascinating and interesting because it's modern and ancient at the same time, mixing different legends and making them new and modern.
The plot is fast paced, it keeps you hooked and entertained till the last page.
I'd love to read other books featuring this characters because I love them and rooted for them.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to Quercus Books and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Post scheduled for Thursday 5th
https://wordpress.com/post/lynns-books.com/37515
3.5 of 5 stars
Brightfall returns us to the land of Sherwood Forest, to Marian, the Merry Men and Robin Hood.  But this is a Sherwood and a Marian that is different than the one we are familiar with.  Sherwood is home to the fae, Marian has magic of her own and Robin is not the man we once knew.

Brightfall is a story about Marian and the life she leads after all the events and goings on of Robin and his Merry Men.  Robin has left Marian and his family - for reasons that will unfold as the story progresses and Marian lives a quiet life in the shelter of Sherwood with her two children.  Unfortunately Marian's tentative happiness is about to be broken when she receives a visit from Friar Tuck.  It seems that the Merry Men are dying, one by one, in unusual circumstances and the latest victim is a cruel blow for Marian.  Tuck suspects some sort of curse, the victims are all linked with Robin potentially the key.  Marian is asked to use her magic to try and uncover the start of the curse and so embarks on a journey of self discovery with Robin as her reluctant companion.

This is an unusual story and was different than what I originally expected.  I knew that this would be a mystery but I hadn't quite expected to find an enchanted land of the fae.  I don't make any secret of the fact that I love stories of the fae and so I was downright pleased when they made an appearance here.  That being said I do have slightly mixed feelings and it's taken me a while to compose my thoughts.

On the one hand I love the story telling.  Jaime Lee Moyer has a lovely style of writing that I just found so easy to absorb.  Her descriptions are magical and she simply has a way of spinning a tale that is quite captivating.  I really enjoyed Marian, reading about her magic and her life since Robin left.  She's found happiness unexpectedly and she is fiercely protective of her children.  When it comes to Robin - well, he's a puzzle.  He abandoned Marian and the children a number of years ago taking refuge in a monastery to atone for his sins.  I think Robin is one of a couple of areas of this story that I struggled a little with at first and that kept me from becoming fully engaged.  Don't get me wrong, it's not his change in character - which has become sullen and almost sulky - but I think I would have liked a bit more background about what led to the change.  There is an explanation but it felt a little glossed over and was too quickly discovered and then tucked away.  The other thing that I had a slight issue with was the meandering feel that the story has.  Marian goes from place to place, usually following a trail of breadcrumbs between victims until setting out on a different path.  I loved the journey but at the same time it started to feel a little like going round in circles, always one step behind.

Okay, so slight criticisms out of the way and, as mentioned above, having had time to ruminate I think the journey here was more one of self discovery.  For both Marian and Robin.  A coming to terms with past events and past mistakes.  Of course there's the riddle of the murders to be solved and alongside that a feeling of not all being well in the fae court which explains their involvement in trying to solve the mystery but for me this felt like a book of exploration and discovery and the circuitous journey in between was an essential part of that.

This is a story that picks up after the 'and they all lived happily ever after' and it's a really interesting idea - because don't you ever wonder if they truly did live happily ever after?  Here we get to see that sometimes things don't always go to plan and people change along the way, not always in the best ways.  That sounds quite serious in some ways doesn't it and yet at the same time I think the author manages to turn Marian's story into much more of a fairytale than I ever expected even with this sober slice of reality.

Overall this was an incredibly easy book to read, made so by the beautiful writing.  I had a couple of issues as mentioned above but they didn't spoil the read for me at all in fact they gave me a few things to think about after I put the book down.  Even now, I'm not totally sure about the inclusion of the fae - and yet at the same time I loved their presence, I just wanted to see more of their slippery self-centred trickiness.  But, all things being equal this is primarily Marian's story and in that respect this story is a great success.  Marian is the lovely character that I expected, she's compassionate and warm, loving and at the same time tough and able.  I loved that she had magic and I loved the slight back stories to some of the other characters such as Little John.  This is a story that looks at the lore of the past, when people were much more superstitious and when the 'others' were something to be avoided at all costs and I love the way that those old tales are woven into this old favourite filling it with new possibility.

This isn't really a tale of the Merry Men, it's not all fun and japes, but it does take the legend into a new direction that was unexpectedly good to read.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.
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As I was reading this book I could see it as a movie. The lush descriptions of the surroundings were some of the parts I enjoyed the most and would make lovely images. And the pacing and construction of the confrontations increased as the chapters rolled by. 
Although described as a Robin Hood and Maid Marian book, he is a secondary character, using the parts of the legend that describe him as a member of the nobility, and in this telling he has retired to a monastery. The main character is Maid Marian who is struck by tragedy, and has a mystery to solve in order to prevent future tragedies. The actual mystery is fairly transparent, but the journey on the way to solve it visits other Merry Men characters, and also involves interactions with the Fae. 
Robin′s motivations throughout the book seem obscure, and I kept expecting more of an explanation of his actions. He is as perhaps as reticent as a noble monk would be expected to be, but I did feel that the emotions of all the characters were not very deep. Or I failed to connect with their emotions which is why I didn′t give it a higher star rating.

I finished up thinking that this did not need to be a Robin Hood book, it would have worked as a standalone story, and might even have worked better for me.
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