Book Review: “Hild” by Nichola Griffith

IMG_10204 stars out of 5

I found Hild at Annie Blooms Books – my local bookstore. It was in the recommended reading section and when I picked it up and had a look at the synopsis on the back, it looked really interesting to me. I am a fan of history and this is a period of time I do not know that much about – Roman England!

The novel is a semi-fictional account and telling of the live of St. Hilda of Whitbey. It follows Hild’s life over a small, but pivotal time for her and for the Island of England. It is the seventh century in Britain and Hild’s father, the prince, has just been poisoned and killed. Her mother is scrambling to find a life for herself, Hild, Hild’s sister and their most trusted companions. They go to Hild’s uncle, who is positioning to become King, seeking a place to live and are eventually welcomed. Hild’s mother is constantly wheeling and dealing behind the scenes to improve their lives in various ways. Hild’s sister is married off and her very best friend, Cian is working his way up the ranks to become one of the King’s men and top fighter. Hild is positioned as a seer and becomes an important adviser to her uncle. She is taken into battle and has to cope with life among the brutality of war and the times. She is the strongest female character I have ever read and I found her amazing. I can’t imagine trying to fill her shoes, live through the things she did and saw. I did feel a special  infinity towards her being a fellow “Ginger” however. It isn’t often redhead are portrayed in a positive way, and her strength intelligence and will were inspirational.

On top of learning about the life Hild led, I also learned more about the history of England. The people were Pagans until this time, worshiping nature and her Gods. The Roman Church started to move in and take over in the 600s and life would be forever changed by this new religion. Languages and tribes would be lost. Violence was everywhere. Learning how they lived was very interesting for me too. When you have seen the castles of England and imagine the life, I think Americans tend to have Disney-thoughts creep in with fairy tales and magic. The life was far from that. Brutal. Hard. Dirty. So much was unexpected and the weather could ruin a entire group people.

I found the book very interesting and there was some good action as well. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and missed the characters when I finished. There are difficult old English/Saxon words made easier with a glossary in the back (it helps with pronunciation and definitions), but over all a book I have recommended to others to read.

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