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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Woman in the Tree: The True Story of Camelot by Natasha D. Lane follows the adventures of Gwynevere with a unique spin on the tale of Camelot. Robin isn't the same queen known from the legends of Arthur. She hates to be called Gwynevere and doesn't even wish to be queen. While loving Arthur has changed many of her plans for her future, all her plans are put on hold when her uncle King Terryn is betrayed and someone close to her turns out to be a traitor who tries to kill her. She manages to flee but only makes it to the Cursed Forest where she's both saved and imprisoned within a tree. She awakens ten years later when Alistair discovers her and brings her back into the world but she quickly discovers everything her uncle built has fallen to darkness under the control of Cadfen. She knows only one way to reclaim what once was: find Arthur and seek his help in the fight against Cadfen.
Unlike most takes on the tale of Camelot, Natasha D. Lane voices a unique story through the eyes of Gwynevere. Robin isn't the Gwynevere typical found in retellings. She doesn't even go by the name; instead, she goes by her middle name of Robin which Lane uses to establish her as her own character, separating her from the usual perceptions placed on Gwynevere's story. The plot contains elements of fighting and war with the occasional darker scene and a focus on Robin's heroic journey. While Lane provides various nods to other well-known characters, the story is entirely new and the characters are entirely their own
Arthur does have a significant place in the story but this is definitely not his story. He's merely one facet of Robin's adventure and though he is important, he's more of a secondary player which allows for the chance to explore Robin's feelings toward him through her perspective and to see the struggles she overcomes as she becomes a hero. The story begins with the betrayal against the king so the paradise that once was Camelot isn't really seen, only referred to by Robin and other characters which is fitting since during the reign of Cadfen anything good that came before seems like a dream. The world now is dangerous, gritty, and deadly and anyone who speaks against Cadfen is killed. Robin faces several shocks as she deals with threats she's not used to experiencing but every threat adds to her drive for revenge and adds to her fight to save the kingdom. The Woman in the Tree incorporates magic, darkness, and evil, and the rise of a few legendary characters into a hero's journey and brilliantly brings to life a tale of humanity, love, friendship, betrayal, and heartbreak. This is a unique origin story about Camelot that will take you by surprise.