The Last Balfour by Cait Duggan
I do love a good witch story: there’s something exhilarating about a young woman drawing on an unknown mystical force and discovering her potential. This story surges at a breathless pace and is unrelenting in its emotional grasp. There’s the mystery in harnessing the forces of the natural world and herbal lore for good, the intrigue in the swirling supernatural, the fear in a perilous journey and the despair at the ultimate betrayal of friendship.
Drawing from a rich source of Scottish history and folklore and peppered with Scottish dialect, The Last Balfour instills a deep realism that transports the reader to the sixteenth century. It was a time when witchcraft was considered the scourge of the age, something evil to be stamped out; a time when capable, independent women were regarded with suspicion; when women were at the mercy of men.
It’s in this climate of superstition and paranoia that Iona Balfour loses loved ones in violent trauma; grieving and defenseless, she must seek a magical stone and escape to Edinburgh before the witch hunters catch her. It’s during this perilous journey that our vulnerable protagonist finds friendship and courage, and also discovers her hidden power and true self.
This is a remarkable debut novel with a surprising ending that had me completely enthralled. I’m desperately waiting for the sequel. Highly recommend for readers 14+ who enjoy a taut, nail-biting adventure; lovers of historical fiction are definitely in for a treat.