Cover Image: Daughter of Black Lake

Daughter of Black Lake

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Member Reviews

At first, I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book. I'm not usually one for historical fiction set during Roman times but this was a very well written book. Some of it was a little confusing due to the mystical aspects but overall a good read.
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I loved this book. It’s haunting, atmospheric, interesting characters, and dual timelines. What more could you ask for in a book? 

Thank you to the Publisher and Netgalley for the advanced e-reader copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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I found this book to be monotonous.  The story was slow and the characters did not seem realistic to me.  I am able to suspend belief but this book was just not what I was hoping for.
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I really loved the take on pagan traditions. A very unique interpretation. Will definitely be recommending to others!
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Book was good. Very strong depiction of the time period and clearly well-researched. the storyline was thought provoking and unusal.
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Daughter of Black Lake is a very nice piece of historical fiction with a little bit of magical realism. It's set in first century AD Britain, against the backdrop of the invading Roman empire. It's a time period I'm not very familiar with, and I was definitely taking breaks to look up Roman cities (other than Londinium, I know that one) to get an idea of the geography. The POV switches from Devout to her daughter Hobble frequently throughout the novel. While clearly labeled, it can be a bit disconcerting, and I found myself at times struggling with the shift, and this was in a sustained reading session without interruptions. Overall, I found this to be a well-written historical escape with good characterizations and captivating setting. 

This review originally posted at Books You Can Die in the Middle Of:   Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group Riverhead for the ARC.
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Fascinating and totally unexpected. This is not a story you have read before about a time so very different from our own and yet there are strong parallels. Amazing research!
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Atmospheric, haunting, excellent writing, superb characterization, all of these things describe "Daughter of Black Lake". A great period piece that isn't written about much, so it was a welcome break and I dived right into it (pun intended). Loved it and will be reading all of this author's works!
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There seems to be an abundance of ancient Roman novels so I was pleased that this one was a new way to explore Roman rule by the lesser told story of ancient Britannia.
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Britain, first century AD. Hobble lives in a secluded community. Years ago, her grandfather and uncles went off to battle the invading Romans, and they never returned. So when a druid priest arrives stirring up ideas of rebellion, Hobble’s family lives in fear. Hobble was born with a disability, making her the most likely to be sacrificed for the gods’ favor. But she possesses a rare gift, the ability to see visions. When she foresees the slaughter of their people, the priest becomes even more zealous in his call to arms and accuses Hobble of deceit. Additionally, Hobble’s mother hides a secret, one that could shatter their family more swiftly than any Roman sword.

The age of the druids comes alive as told through the eyes of a mother, named Devout, and her daughter, Hobble. The narratives poignantly recount how each woman’s generation has been affected by Roman rule. Perception heavily influences character choices. Named for her limp from a birth deformity, Hobble is never ashamed of who she is but instead finds ways to prove herself capable, including in the healing arts. While there are horrible stories of what Romans have done enslaving their people, the actions of a few are not the sole narrative. Romans bring with them sturdy roads, new business, stone construction, and written language. The old ways would sacrifice Hobble for being a runt, causing her family to re-evaluate what the druids fight to preserve. Impactful themes about the power of change enrich the novel.

At times, the non-linear writing style gets confusing. Flashbacks occur in the midst of active conversations before circling back in the following section. However, the characters and their community truly shine. This is a story of a culture finding ways to preserve what’s most important while facing an uncertain future. Recommended.
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Hobble is the daughter of a blacksmith and a field worker in the remote village of Black Lake during the occupation of Britain by Rome under Emperor Claudius. When a druid comes to town to foment rebellion, Hobble's life changes forever.

"Daughter of Black Lake" is a fun exploration of early Roman Britain from the inside of a small tribal community. The novel manages to advance a storyline about Hobble's questioned gift of prophecy while providing many slice of life style scenes about life in the village. Readers experience what the tribe members eat, how they work, how they worship, and how they communicate with each other as they learn concurrently about not only Hobble's life but also about the life of her mother, Devout. This is a fun read for anyone with an interest in history who doesn't mind a bit of the fantastic thrown in.
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This beautifully written book shows that it doesn’t matter where or when a story is set; themes of love, family and survival are universal.
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Mother and daughter Devout and Hobble, embrace the ways of Mother Earth.....each using their special gifts to help their poor community and eke out a meager living through hard work and perseverance. Devout has the gift of healing that has helped her overcome tragedy and devote herself to her neighbors and piety. Daughter Hobble has the gift of sight, which becomes a threat when a zealous druid preacher set on rebellion arrives in the village and upsets the fragile balance of the community. Tense and suspenseful.
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This book had a great mix of dark ambiance, detailed research, and wonderful characters! I was sucked in on page one, and I’m not exaggerating.

This is a historical fiction with some fantasy elements. I loved that one of the main characters has visions of the future, but is physically flawed. She is considered of little value to her town because of her leg, and yet her visions are a secret that is so valuable.

The two main characters are Hobble and Devout, a mother and daughter. I was connected to both of them- and enjoyed their individual struggles. The community’s thoughts and actions are set in such a long-ago time, and yet there were many aspects that resonated with today’s world.

The world-building was fabulous. I felt like the descriptions created this rich setting for the characters to live in. I haven’t read a book about Druids before, and I found it so interesting. It was filled with details that gave such an in-depth understanding of the period. It felt real, and I loved it!

Overall, I was deeply invested in this book. The characters were wonderful, the setting was created beautifully, and the story was perfect! This is one to add to your TBR!

To Read or Not To Read:
I would recommend Daughter of Black Lake for readers that enjoy learning about a new time in history as well as a bit of a magical element.

I was provided a gifted copy of this book for free.  I am leaving my review voluntarily.
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Being transported back to the time 0f the Druids and Bog People when England was being invaded by the Romans was enlightening and interesting--actually, quite fascinating! The struggles of life, no matter the time period or the people, are all the same: shelter, food, clothing, love, safety, happiness, friendship. The novel is smoothly written and well researched with characters that are easy to relate to. I especially liked the names the author gave to the seasons and to the people inhabiting the pages of this book.

Thanks to NetGalley and Riverhead Books for the ARC to read and review.
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This was fine, but not particularly memorable or special for me. Daughter of Black Lake follows a mother and daughter, Devout and Hobble, living as “bog dwellers” (Celtics) in Britain around the time of the Roman invasion of the island. Weaving their two narratives with alternating timelines, we learn more of Devout’s secretive past and Hobble’s prophetic abilities, which become particularly dangerous when a power-hungry druid begins using their small, isolated community as an outpost for rebellion. 

While I was initially intrigued by the historical period of this novel (I took Latin as my language of choice, so I find classical antiquity to be quite a fascinating period of history and also was also intrigued to see archeology as history play out in this novel), I soon became fairly disinterested with the plotlines, particularly Devout’s, which devolves into a “torn between two loves” story with, in my opinion, a fairly bland and unlikeable primary love interest. I also frequently look to see authentic historical detail in my favorite historical fiction and, unfortunately, I really did not learn anything new about the culture of the Celtics from reading this novel. 

Finally, I am not sure about the disability representation in this novel—I will be intrigued to see own-voices reviews on this aspect because the portrayal of Hobble’s disability just kind of rubbed me the wrong way (in that there’s a lot of value-judgment placed on being able-bodied, which while potentially historically accurate, just felt unnecessary and an odd choice by the author to focus the story on this topic so heavily without thinking about a way in which to make the discussion more nuanced). 

All in all, I thought this was quite average and I’m not quite sure I would recommend it (unless, perhaps, you are an avid reader of more commercial-leaning historical fiction, in which case you may enjoy this? idk).
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The characters of Hobble and Devout were so interesting and I loved reading about each of them. I thought the historical atmosphere was phenomenal and I loved the alternating timelines.
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I requested an ARC of Daughter of Black Lake because I loved the author's first novel, The Painted Girls. In other words, I went into reading Daughter of Black Lake with a lot of assumptions. The first part of my reading process was disappointing because for the most part I was letting go of those assumptions and embracing the book for what it is. Once I embraced the book for what it is, I found it a deeply engaging read: one of those "just one more chapter" books that leave once exhauted and bleary-eyed the next morning.

Daughter of Black Lake is set in Britain during the Roman occupation. The Romans aren't much of a presence around Black Lake, a tiny hamlet perched at the edge of a bog, but the knowledge that they could appear at any moment shapes much of the narrative. Some people in Black Lake see the occupation as an opportunity: to learn new skills, to move beyond their old boundaries, and to make money. Others see the occupation as a threat to their entire lifeway, which is shaped by by Druid beliefs and practices.*

Hobble, the book's central narrator, is simultaneously less-than and more-than those she lives with. As her name suggests, she disabled, though not significantly. She walks with a limp, but her father has taught her her to run, and she's a swift as anyone else just a bit more ungainly. And in this Druid world, where the runts and imperfect animals are chosen for sacrifice, disability puts one at specific risk: there haven't been any human sacrifices in a generation, but those with weaknesses know that, if that changes, they may be the ones paying with their lives. At the same time, Hobble is a Seer. She'll be stopped in her tracks by a flash of blinding white light only she can see, then finds herself viewing images of some future event or location. This is primarily a pragmatic skill: she knows where clusters of mushrooms grow hidden, she easily collects plants for her work as a healer, she sometimes plays with her friends telling them where they'll find a particular stone or other item. But Hobble can't choose what she'll see or when she sees it, so when others want her to use this gift for a specific purpose, she can't.

Smith and Devout, Hobble's parents, have a relationship at once loving and distant. They hold secrets from one another, and neither fully knows the other. With her gifts, Hobble sees each of them more clearly than they see the other, but Hobble's understanding of their relationship remains incomplete.

The plot is moved along by the arrival of a Druid priest determined to inspire the villagers to a final uprising against the Romans. He's keeping a close eye on Hobble and her family, who can't be sure whether this attention reflects respect for her gift or disdain that might lead to Hobble being seen as a candidate for sacrifice.

What I particularly enjoyed about this novel is the way the two narratives—Hobble's growing understanding of her parents and the tensions the Druid's presence creates in Black Lake—play out in tandem, making the book simultaneously mythic and very human in scale.

I strongly recommend this title, which rewards readers on multiple levels. You may find the start a bit slow, but trust that you'll be caught up in the novel's tale and characters if you just keep reading.

I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley. The opinions are my own.

*(Note: I know next to nothing about the actual Druid faith and Druid practices. Buchanan clearly did due diligence in depicting this world, but I can't tell you how well her depiction lines up with historical reality. If you've read this book and know more than I do about historical Druid identity, please leave a comment. I'd love to read your thoughts.)
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This is a great way to immerse yourself in Roman Britain. Instead of focusing on the big names of the time (Boudicca), the story centers on the young female healers of a small tribe near a bog. Smith, Hobble, and Devout’s family becomes dear to the reader as we follow them across many years of famine, harvest, and war. 
Fans of history and archaeology will enjoy this novel. The imagined fate of a famous bog body is included.
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The story and characters are compelling. Hobble's life experience and the conflict between the incoming Romans and the Druids make for a good plot center, but I think that there are times that the language and writing get me out of the time period this is supposed to take place in.
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