Daughter of lies and ruin by Jo Spurrier

cover image

Tales of the Blackbone Witches book 2. HarperCollins, 2019. ISBN: 9781460756348. 352p.
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. In another action packed adventure, Elodie and her mentor Aleida are on the road when they are attacked by vicious bandits, swooped upon by unearthly beasts and meet a sword wielding girl with a secret. But there is still more to come - the whole of the world may be threatened by supernatural creatures. Even Aleida is afraid, and Elodie knows that means there is danger ahead.
This follows on from the first in the series A curse of ash and embers, and could almost be read as a stand-alone, but of course it is always better to get to know the characters and their backgrounds by reading a series in order.
Spurrier has written a vivid world where bandits threaten innocent people, where nuns take in girls and women and give them a productive life, and where witches wield enormous power. Griffins swoop down on travellers, an evil witch is concocting a strange ritual and has turned men into beasts and the Blackbone witches are hard pressed to stay alive.
Elodie is still coming to terms with the fact that she is a witch. Even though she has had a difficult childhood acting as an unpaid servant in her home, she still believes in the good in people and is willing to stand up for them. She often doubts herself, but Aleida's tough stance and gritty example gradually help her to realise her abilities and hone her skills, making her more self-confident and able to find solutions when under enormous pressure. Her skill of making a fissure between worlds, guided by her little familiar, is unique and priceless in their war against the underworld.
The relationship between Aleida and Elodie is central to the plot and the compassion that Elodie feels for the sword wielding but often misguided Kara, makes friendship a key theme.
And of course there is action galore to keep the reader glued to the page.
Themes: Witches, Curses, Coming of age.
Pat Pledger