Son of the Shadows picks up about 18 years after Daughter of the Forest and features Liadan, Sorcha’s daughter, as the protagonist. Liadan is much like her mother, in terms of her size and coloring and her talent as a healer. But Liadan is also much like her father, happy to be tied to her estate and people, living a careful, duty-bound life. Even further, she shares the gift of the Sight that her uncle Finbar had and she is told she has the power to change the course of destiny. The “old evil” (AKA Lady Oonagh AKA Sorcha’s evil stepmother) is back to stir up some trouble. Liadan’s sister, Niamh, is caught in an affair with someone her family strictly forbids. Niamh is shipped off to be married to a political ally of Sevenwaters and Liadan accompanies her on her journey. Liadan is kidnapped by a gang of mercenaries known as the band of the Painted Man when they hear of her ability as a healer. Liadan stays with the band of the Painted Man for a week (or two) and falls pretty quickly into the arms of the Chief of the band, a man she names Bran. When Bran learns Liadan’s family heritage, he scorns her and send her back to Sevenwaters. Liadan soon finds out she is pregnant with Bran’s baby and while he has refused her, she cannot give up on her true love. Nor can she give up on the quickly unraveling stability of her home and family.
So. I was once again swept up in the Sevenwaters world. Liadan has more powers and magic than her mother did, so the supernatural and folklore are even more present and active in this story. I was inclined to like the romance between Liadan and Bran a little more than Sorcha and Red, but mostly because Bran is a bit of a bad boy with a code and well, I like that trope in my romance novels. Liadan was not quite as endearing as Sorcha, though I liked her confidence in herself and her trust in others. I did have some issues with some of the choices Liadan makes. She is quite stubborn and refuses to tell Bran that she is pregnant because she assumes there is no room in his life for her. I just can’t imagine a more selfish act than keeping the child from him. Let him decide if he wants to stay or go! Her major trouble is trying to decide whether to choose for herself or whether to fall into line with what the Fair Folk and her family forsee for her. But it’s not even much of a struggle, as she very stubbornly believes she knows what is right for herself the whole time. Also, whenever she hit a snag, there was some sort of magic available to bail her out. Her journey was not near as tough as Sorcha’s and as a result it was not as touching and heart-wrenching as Sorcha’s. The book shone the most for me when Liadan was in the camp of the Painted Man, among men with no other place to go. I wish that had been more of the story, rather than the waiting and angsting that made up a good deal of the middle part of the book.
This is a decent sequel with romance and adventure and a lot more political detail and scheming, but it is not quite the tale of love and struggle and sacrifice that made Daughter of the Forest so special. All that said, I am probably starting Child of the Prophecy very soon. I really like this world Marillier has created and while her characters didn’t shine as brightly here, I know the final book of the trilogy focuses on the next generation and I’d like to see how the Sevenwaters family fairs against the reemergence of the old evil.