My dear bookish friends,
What is a book that is a fantasy set in Scotland that does not only have historical and mythological elements and a quest, but also the fair folk all mixed into one? Yup, that sounds like a book for me! And it was!! A huge thank you to TheWriteReads as well as the author J.T.T. Ryder for the ebook and my spot on this blogtour (neither influenced my review in any way!). Keep on reading to find out what exactly Hag of the Hills is about, and what I liked about it!
“Nothing is unconquerable; even our gods can die.”
Brennus is destined from birth to become a warrior, despite his farmer’s life. But when the Hillmen kill his family and annihilate his clan, he now has the opportunity to avenge those who he loved. Brennus must survive endless hordes of invading Hillmen and magic-wielding sidhe, aided by only a band of shifty mercenaries, and an ancient bronze sword. Failure means his family and clan go unavenged. Victory will bring glory to Brennus and his ancestors.
Hag of the Hills is a heroic fantasy novel set in 200 B.C. on the Isle of Skye, steeped in Celtic mythology and culture.
Hag of the Hills is what the author himself calls a ‘heroic prehistoric fantasy fiction’. We get a lot of references to the author’s work and way of working, before the story actually starts as well as in the afterword. You can clearly see that the author is an archeologist and also historian at heart. And not the kind who writes dry history school books. The world of Hag of the Hills comes alive in front of your eyes. I could see the green rolling hills, the fairy folk living under the mushrooms, the old hag and her colour changing dog – all while reading as well as long afterwards.
The writing pulled me in from the start. Give me anything mythological (Celtic especially) and I will be interested, mention a fairy or other mythological being and I will be super excited, but something about the way this book is written kept my eyes glued to the page and I didn’t just want to, I NEEDED to read on.
This is historical fantasy as it should be done. The places are real, the myths are ‘real’ and instead of feeling like a modern day person writing for a modern audience with modern sensibilities we instead get something which ‘feels’ more real, feels like we are actually there in ancient Scotland and not in some made up, completely unrealistic, sparkly Hollywood fantasy version of it.
Now, that is not to say there isn’t fantasy in this, but the fantasy is fantasy that meshes with and comes from the actual ‘real’ myths and is grounded in the historical world. It is not the usual stuff you get in book after book these days of some MC getting magic powers and brief mentions of some Scottish place or myth to loosely link to it for the sales and spark interest. This book NEEDS to be set where it is, because it lives and breathes there.
Something I really appreciated was that the author shares his list of place names as well as non-English words in the fore- as well as afterword. An index at the end is cool, but not very handy when you have an ebook in my opinion (so I really liked this!!).
I also liked the way the story unfolds. Main character and warrior son Brennus is telling his friend Luceo about his life. He can see the sidhe, the fair folk. The time (about 200 BC) as well as place the story is set in is laced with mythology and superstition, something that heavily influences the MC’s story and his narrative. Since Brennus can see and interact with beings of the ‘other side’, his interaction with the titular hag of the hills – his wish to fulfil his dreams is at the forefront of the story. But like everything else that has to do with magical beings, her help comes with a price…
If you are a fan of fantasy, epics, mythology, history and archeology and like stories set in Scotland, this is a book you absolutely have to pick up!
5 stars from me – and highly recommended! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thank you all so much for reading!