My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Juliet Marillier is fast becoming one of my all-time favourite story-tellers. Son of the Shadows is the second book of 5 (soon to be 6) in Marillier's Sevenwaters series. In a setting where history, folklore and magic are brilliantly intertwined, Marillier tells the story of the children of Sorcha, the heroine of Daughter of the Forest, whose bravery and determination saved her brothers and her home from the enchantment of an evil sorceress.
As a result of Sorcha's achievements, her children - Niamh, Sean and Liadan - are able to enjoy a life of relative peace and security in the family forest of Sevenwaters. However, the shadow of past events cannot be shaken, and the fear of a great evil remains.
Strange happenings are taking place outside the forest, where the Painted Man and his band of outlaws are men-for-hire, but the rumours say they are more beast than human.
Then Niamh, eldest daughter of Sorcha and Red, falls in love with a man she cannot have, and is taken from Sevenwaters and forced into a marriage of alliance with the son of a neighbouring King. At the same time, Liadan finds herself face-to-face with the Painted Man and his men, but rather than being afraid she sees this band as misunderstood souls and kindred spirits.
This fateful encounter with the Painted Man gains the attention of the Fair Folk and the Old Ones, and sparks concerns about the return of that great evil. This association is also set to reveal to Liadan and her family lost secrets from a forgotten past.
It is these events that begin a chain reaction which threatens the peace and security the children of Sevenwaters have known all their lives. Niamh, Sean and Liadan are suddenly forced into adulthood, where adult challenges must be faced and adult decisions made in order to protect their loved ones and their home from the danger that is lurking outside the forest. Liadan, the youngest and wisest of the three, rejects the influence of the Fair Folk and leaves the forest against their advice to do what she feels in necessary to save herself and her family from the impending chaos and darkness.
Brilliantly written, Marillier easily draws you into her magical world of Sevenwaters.