Title: Wise Child
Author: Monica Furlong
Series: Doran #1
Wise Child lives alone with her grandmother in a small Scottish village–her father at sea, her mother having abandoned her. When her grandmother dies, she is taken in by Juniper, a woman wise in the ways of herbs and rumored to be a witch. Juniper is more independent and educated than the women of the villagers. As Wise Child shares her life, learning more than she ever thought, she finds a home she never expected. But Maeve, her real mother and a sorceress of no little power, wants her too, and tempts her with luxury and idleness.
Since I read Juniper first, I had something of a hard time getting into this, because in many ways it’s exactly the same story as Juniper: a young girl growing up learning the ways of the doran. More happens in Wise Child, in one sense. There are different rituals and a different kind of work to do. Juniper’s house is pretty much a palace compared to how the rest of the villagers live, and she enjoys a much higher standard of living than most of them.
On the other hand, I just didn’t like Wise Child. She’s handed everything, even an education that she never would’ve gotten back in the village, and she takes a long time to notice how much better she has it with Juniper than before. And her temptation to Maeve’s way of life was nowhere near as compelling as the main danger in Juniper’s book. Why does Maeve even want her? Presumably to train her up in her own way—but she gives up so easily. The only sense of threat comes from events that Wise Child was stupid enough to trigger herself.
And I’m a little sick of the “evil narrow-minded priest” plot as well. Can’t one person in the whole village actually take their religion seriously enough to do some of the good it talks about?
Well, at any rate, I finished. Of the two books I think Juniper is the stronger one, and this one didn’t add enough to the experience to make me glad I got through it. I rate this book Neutral.