Is Blood Thicker Than Water?
Five sisters. One kingdom. Lots of trouble.
These key ingredients plus so much more make up the plot for Kim Wilkinson’s novel Daughters of the Storm. While this title has been available over the pond for some time (at least according to my Goodreads research) it’s finally coming to the U.S. I was recently given the opportunity to read an ARC and boy, am I glad that I did!
Set in a fictitious viking like world, the land of Almissia is ruled by Athelrick – the greatest warrior in the land. Or at least, he was. Now he’s fallen ill, so desperately ill that it’s become quite clear that he’s going to die. Because of this, his five daughters are sent for to tend to him in his final days: Bluebell, the eldest and an unparalleled warrior; Rose, queen of Nettlechester; Ash, a healer studying the ways of magic; and twins Ivy and Willow, Ivy who is selfish and Willow who has given herself over to a foreign religion.
These sisters couldn’t be more different, but it is their dynamic that will drive the story of Daughters of the Storm as they set to save their father from the illness that plagues him.
Turns out that Athelrick isn’t sick. Not exactly. He’s been “elf shot” which is actually a form of malevolent magic. Since this means that there was intent behind the illness, the sisters must also work to solve the mystery of who did this as it means someone has attempted to murder the king. Sadly, this mystery doesn’t last long for the readers as the person behind it confesses to someone else fairly quickly. Though to be fair, it would also be hard to maintain that secret and have the rest of the story progress as it does.
Regardless, Bluebell suspects Gudrun, the second wife of Athelrick and step mother to the five young women. Gudrun has her own son, Wylm, who has aspirations for the throne despite not being a blood relative to Athelrick himself. Therefore, to save both himself and his mother he sets off to defeat Bluebell, though things don’t go the way he hopes for most of his journey.
Meanwhile, the sisters have their own journey to undertake. After moving their father so that he may be will guarded, they set out to search for their estranged aunt Eldra, who is an undermagician. Undermagicians are essentially the equivalent of witches, therefore they are not generally well thought of and few prefer to keep their company. Still, the young women are desperate, and seek the help of their aunt not knowing for sure whether or not she will even help.
Putting The Fun In Dysfunctional
Things aren’t easy riding, however. Heath, the nephew of the King of Nettlechester arrives to assist the sisters on their journey, but Rose and he have something of an affair going on. Naturally, the knowledge of this could endanger relations between Almissia and Nettlechester. Bluebell demands they put a stop to it, but it seems love isn’t so easy to abolish. Then there’s the matter of Ash. Her magical powers are growing stronger at an alarming rate, and with the newfound knowledge of an estranged aunt who is also an undermagician, as well as a vision of her own violent death pressing down upon her, she’s beginning to wonder if she shouldn’t abandon her family for their own well being. Then there’s the matter of the twins, Willow and Ivy. Essentially, both of these young women more or less exist to cause trouble for their older sisters whether they mean to or not. That being said, each girl’s story concludes in book one in the Blood and Gold series in a rather surprising albeit slightly disappointing manner. At least for poor Ivy. Willow, on the other hand, solidifies her place in novels to come.
It’s Bluebell who has to maintain control over this group while equally struggling with her own inner demons. If her father dies, the kingdom of Almissia will be hers to rule. It’s a responsibility she’s ready and willing to accept, but her deep love for her father won’t allow her to give up on him. It is she that holds this group of gals together long enough to achieve their goal, but what it costs her in the end may alter her perspective on her family forever.
We Are Family
While this is my first book by Kim Wilkins, it certainly won’t be my last, especially since this is only the first installment of a series. Wilkins does a really good job of making the world in which this story takes place a combination of foreign and the familiar. Certain aspects are curiosities you want to learn more about, while on the other hand the Nordic influences serve to flavor enough of the story where you aren’t struggling to keep up with the events on the page.
I also really enjoyed each of the sisters in their own way. Coming from a four child household myself, three of which being girls, and myself the oldest of them all, I related to Bluebell more than I anticipated I ever would. I also saw a disturbing amount of my own sisters in some of the characteristics of the other women. Yet for all their flaws, Wilkins never relies on tropes to define these women. Each is very much their own very believable person, with their own dreams and goals. While I wish at times they had been more developed over a longer book, this is really only nitpicking. What I got of these characters was satisfying, and I sincerely cannot wait for the second book to hit shelves across the pond.
I Got All My Sisters With Me
That’s not to say that every aspect of the story was perfect. I do feel that Wilkins’ use of descriptions left something to be desired. Many of the fight scenes were at times confusing, and her imagery of various landscapes equally so. I was also terribly disappointed at how quickly Eldra was dismissed at the end of the novel considering what we find out about her during a conversation between her and Bluebell. I can only hope that she returns in later books, because she did not get the finale that she deserved.
Ultimately though, I really enjoyed Daughters of the Storm and if you’re looking for a new series to get into, I’d definitely point you to this one. If you’re a fan of the Game of Thrones, Stormlight Chronicles, or other various high or even general fantasy series this is one to look out for. It has a strong cast of kick ass women with a mythology I’m excited to see develop in future novels.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Daughters of The Storm will be out March 6th, 2018 from Del Rey books for $24.00.
This review is based off of an ARC given to HeyPoorPlayer by Del Rey Publishing.