Sunday, 31 January 2016

Longbow Girl

Schoolgirl Merry faces the loss of her family's farm. For centuries, the Owens have bred ponies in the shadow of the Black Castle, the wild Welsh home of their arch-enemies, the de Courcys.

In the roots of a storm-turned tree, Merry makes an extraordinary discovery; a treasure that offers her the chance to turn back time and change a past filled with untold secrets and danger. Merry is brave enough for most things. She's a skilled rider and archer; a born fighter. But is she ready for this, the greatest adventure of her life?

"Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, because I am the Longbow Girl."

I knew I would probably enjoy Longbow Girl, but I wasn’t expecting to fall utterly head over heels in love with it!

Longbow Girl is a tale of one young women in two different times. After losing her eye continuing her families heritage of producing longbow men, 16 year old Merry’s fierce independence puts her family's farm at risk to the neighbouring de Courcys, who are still holding a centuries old grudge over what they see as their land in the first place. To save it, Merry discovers not only a pathway back to Henry VIII’s tudor Britain, but that her part in her family's history goes back further she could have imagined.

Longbow Girl is a beautiful story. If you’re looking for a fast paced, edge of the seat page turner, then this book isn’t for you. The time travel aspect doesn’t happened until well over halfway through the story, far later than I was expecting. But I was enjoying it so much I hardly noticed. Set in the beautiful Brecon Beacons, the casual, almost meandering story follows Merry through her life, letting the reader discover the world, rather than being subjected to endless info dumps or a rushed set up to get to the action. Merry is a fantastic heroine, I absolutely love her! She’s badass! Handy with a longbow as per tradition, she also brave, resourceful, adventurous and smart. When she discovers the portal to the past, she doesn’t stumble ass backwards through it and get by on luck over judgement. She stops, she thinks and she prepares. In so many books, the protagonist gets a pass on stupid behaviour that would get them killed in real life just by virtue of being the main character. I love stories that give the heroine enough credit for you to believe in them, rather than rob the book of any tension because you know that the character is bullet proof regardless of what poorly thought out actions they take and how (in)capable they are of taking them.

Although she’s described as beautiful, it’s refreshing to read about a protagonist with a physical imperfection (in this case, a missing eye from a snapped bow) that isn’t their defining characteristic. Her relationship with her parents and fierce loyalty to her family is the beating heart of the story, maybe that’s why I loved the book so much! There’s such a warm, comforting feeling when you read it, even when the tension is amped up.

Once the story moves back in time, and Merry realises how much is at stake, the action starts to come thick and fast. I love anything old timey England, and I love the girl power as Merry takes a stand against those persecuting her family in a world where a longbow girl is unheard of. There are shades of William Manchester's A World Lit Only By Fire in the past setting, it's fittingly brutal and authentic, rather than coming across as a writer's impression of a medieval renaissance fair that so many tales set in the past tend to do (a pet peeve of mine!).

The story is told from the pov of Merry and her best friend, the de Courcy’s son James. There’s a brief mention towards the end of romance in their future, but their relationship is wonderfully simple and completely believable. I’ve just about had my fill of insta-love and love triangles lately, so it was great to read about a girl and a boy who are just friends. Believe it or not writers, it can happen! The ending is just perfect, although it did make me almost cry in public, something that hasn’t happened since Lorali. I know it’s a bit early in the year to be talking about best reads, but Longbow Girl currently holds the title of my favourite book of 2016 so far.


  1. Wow it's great to hear that you loved this book so much! I wasn't sure if it would be for me because I tend to go for more action-packed books but when my mood switches this will be my go-to :D thanks for sharing your great review!
    Enchanted by YA

    1. Thanks Anna. I usually go for faster paced reads too, so it was nice to read something more relaxed for a change, it made everything feel a bit less hectic for a few hours!