on Nov. 15, 2017 :
The Monster of Selkirk by C.E. Clayton really surprised me. I'm not sure what I was expecting from the premise, besides wicked elves and what sounded like a historical Scottish setting. What I found was a kick butt heroine who not only knows how to fight (thanks to her Knighted cousin), but a cast of colorful characters in a very grounded fantastical world. Selkirk is actually an island, largely forested, where the humans have kept elves at bay for hundreds of years. Ever since the elves went feral and lost their ability to speak intelligibly, humans have treated them like animals. They even host frequent clearings, destroying the elves homes and killing without mercy. So is it any wonder the elves might decide to fight back?
Our main heroine, Tallis is somewhat unconventional from a small age. Her eyes are a little too big, her hair a little wild, but everyone seems willing to accept her as their own. Her village is poor but this doesn't stop Tallis from soaking in as much she can through books in the nearby abbey, learning how to fight from her cousin Donovan, and causing mischief whenever she gets the chance. From the beginning we can already see hints of what Tallis may become, but this doesn't detract in any way from each reveal.
It's been a while since I've read a story that takes the time to give you backstory like this. As we grow up with Tallis, we are drawn deeper and deeper into Clayton's imagination until we feel every injustice she witnesses just as keenly. Besides Donovan, Tallis draws a makeshift family of her own through her pick-pocket friend Rosslyn and monk-in-training/inventor, Tomas. Everything is set up for a hero's journey and we know we will see these characters see Tallis through to the inevitable end.
I can't say more without giving away spoilers for the book, but suffice to say, this was a privilege to read. Not only am I anxious to read the sequel, but I would highly recommend this series for fans of Shannara Chronicles and The Wheel of Time Series.
(reviewed 14 days after purchase)