This book was a surprise. I only read as a stop-gap arrangement because I wanted to read a period piece and not something I would get very invested in. I was so wrong since this book was absolutely the wrong choice (well not about the period setting part). I got invested almost from the very beginning and I’m really looking forward to the sequels.This was a great book with great characters set in a bleak landscape, with an evil king to finish things off. What Marilier does well is getting the reader to care about people we never actually meet and are only mentioned occasionally like Farral, Neryn’s mother and grandmother. She doesn’t just make us sympathise with what befell them but also gives us a sense of the kind of people they were, even characters that only appear fleetingly (like Mara and Garrett) she manages to really make us care about them. The narrative is on the slow side but it keeps moving at steady pace. I loved the way she gradually revealed more and more about Flint. His motives remain unclear till about the last quarter of the book, which works well. Neryn is a great character; unsure of her strengths and also haunted by her own ghosts, the horrors she’s had to witness. She seems older than her fifteen years but then that’s not surprising considering the kind of place and conditions she’s grown up in.This is the first novel I’ve read by her and it honestly makes me want to read her other works.