Book Review: Born of Oak and Silver

Born of Oak and Silver is an epic Druidic fantasy that spans decades. It follows Daine, a Druid, from the time just before his birth until his death (this isn’t a spoiler, the prologue is him speaking of his own death and subsequent rebirth so you know it’s coming eventually).

Daine is a strong but real character, meaning he has some pretty significant flaws at different points in the book that lead him along a path that’s both wonderful and terrible at the same time. The supporting characters were wonderful. Bram, the aged Druidic grandfather was a favorite. Ayda was the character who had me both cheering and cursing the most and Maurelle was deliciously evil and seductive.

I did have a few issues with this book that I want to mention. Not because I think they are reasons not to read. Not at all, but I like to make sure that anyone following my reviews knows what they’re in for when they start a book I’ve recommended.

First of all, there’s a lot of backstory that takes place. This is a LONG book. 509 pages according to Amazon. It’s very well written with excellent description, vibrant settings, and real, gut wrenching emotion. But as I was reading the beginning, I did feel several times that I wanted to get to the meat of the book. That said, knowing all about Daine’s childhood does make the events of the rest of the book more meaningful.

Secondly, the book does not end with everything resolved into a nice, tidy little bow. There’s a sequel coming and it’s not out yet (as of the date of this review, December 2013). In fact, it’s not slated to come out until October 2014, so you’ve got a bit of a wait. Just be warned.

Third: There are some pretty gruesome scenes in this book. Rape, murder, dismembering…they are not treated lightly. These types of scenes in a book don’t bother me, but sensitive readers may want to be aware.

And lastly, my only real criticism of the book: I did feel like another edit pass was in order. There are a number of instances of poor editing (primarily sentences where it appears the author changed the sentence but missed a word or two going from one draft to another). It’s inevitable, even in traditionally published books that a mistake or two slips through, but there are a few dozen mistakes in this text that occasionally bring you out of the story. HOWEVER: I urge you to read past those and let yourself be swept away by the tale.

Note: Ms. McKean just recently re-released this book with a fresh edit pass. I haven’t had the opportunity to re-read it yet because my to-read pile is absolutely insane, but I believe that the issues I noticed should be much improved now. 

I will definitely be reading more of Ms. McKean’s work as I think she is extremely talented and I was honored to be able to read this review copy. She’s crafted a world that is so rich you can’t help but lose yourself in it and characters that make you laugh, cry, and rage as the story unfolds.

Born of Oak and Silver – 4 of 5 stars

***This review originally appeared at Author Alliance.***

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