What did I just finish reading? Magus of Stonewylde, a fantastic magical tale in the Young Adult genre.
I like Pagans to be good. By that, I don’t mean unable or unwilling to face or engage with their darker sides. I mean wise, virtuous, socially just, good stewards of the earth, champions of equality and religious freedom. But alas, Pagans are just people and prone to the same human frailties as anyone else. We can be just as stupid, cruel, and unjust. And if it weren’t for that and other flaws such as corruption and greed, there wouldn’t be a story for Kit Berry to tell.
Magus of Stonewylde tells the story of Sylvie, a dying teenage girl who is given an opportunity at life when she and her mother, Miranda, are brought to Stonewylde, a hidden Pagan community in England. The fresh air, natural lifestyle, and magic of the place heal Sylvie. She and Miranda are happier than ever in this idyllic community. But Stonewylde is not everything it seems.
Sylvie, as one of the privileged Hallfolk, experiences the best of Stonewylde – education, freedom, and luxury. Meanwhile, Yul belongs to the Village, the uneducated labouring class that keeps Stonewylde running. Yul experiences the worst of Stonewylde – hard, physical labour from dawn til dusk, little food, shabby clothing, and abuse at the hands of his cruel, lcoholic father and of Magus, the community’s leader determined to keep him and Sylvie apart.
Though slow at times, Berry weaves a fantastic story. She employers familiar Pagan themes and archetypes. The mythic battle of the Holly King and Oak King bring the novel to a stunning cliff-hanging close.
Magus of Stonewylde is the first in the Stonewylde series, which currently has five books. For more information, visit the author’s website.