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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Rebel’s Knot by Cryssa Bazos takes us back to seventeenth-century Ireland and that eternal struggle against the English and the Irish desire for self-determination. Aine Callaghan is a young Irish lass who has escaped a difficult family situation in Cork to finally find some peace of mind as a dairymaid for a wealthy Irish farming family. After she witnesses a brutal attack by the English on her employers, but manages to hide and survive the ensuing English marauders, she is left all alone in the world with no idea how she will survive. Niall O’Conneil has been a soldier all his adult life and, as part of a marauding Irish brigade resisting the English invasion, is a veteran of the struggle. When he calls in at his uncle and aunt’s farm to check on them as well as his sister, who has been staying with them, he is horrified to discover the massacre that has taken place there. Finding Aine nearby, he feels responsible for her safety. He takes her back to the Irish camp, deep in the forest, where she will gain protection and assist the soldiers by looking after their dairy cows.
Rebel’s Knot is a particularly exciting and fast-paced novel that flows with effortlessness, a real credit to Cryssa Bazos. The two main characters she has drawn, Aine and Niall, are flawed and yet instantly likable and relatable. Her supporting cast is also fantastic and interesting. I particularly enjoyed the references to Irish legends and the faerie folk, which are so much part of Irish folklore and yet written into this tale with depth, understanding, and believability. The author didn’t shy away from the issue of religion, for so long the bane of Irish life and reason for lack of unity, and I appreciated that. The flowing, descriptive passages, especially of the forest and its many beauties and dangers, were a highlight of the story. Although there is plenty of gruesome violence and fast-paced action for all the adrenaline junkies out there, this is essentially a wonderfully sweet love story. I’ve read much of the Scottish-English enmity, and I was fascinated to discover that the Irish issues were so similar in manner and their treatment by their English overlords was almost identical. I loved this story and am fascinated to read more from this talented author. I can highly recommend this read.