This stark fantasy story is the beginning of an intriguing series that provides a different view of the Fey. Please be advised that there is a fair amount of violence and fairly gritty events as these memorable characters and their lives are presented. The complicated relationships between the half-brothers and their responsibilities as well as the interactions with the females in their lives highlight the challenges of handling potential immortality and its impact on relationships with those who have relatively short mortal lives. There are significant and painful events that mold the characters of each brother and some unexpected developments that will have significant repercussions that will affect the future of both the Sithe and mortal races. There are a few somewhat heavyhanded hints about future events but overall this is a fascinating tale that has piqued my interest in the series although this definitely is not a light and airy story.
“Firebrand” by Gillian Philip is Book One of the ‘Rebel Angels’ series that centers around the Sithe society as seen through the interactions between the family of Griogair and the queen, Kate NicNevin, known as the Daughter of the Snows. Seth is the illegitimate son of Griogair, rejected by almost everyone except his half-brother Conal, future leader of the Dun. A political upheaval results in the brothers being exiled to the mortal realm in the world on the other side of Sgath, the Veil between the worlds, where they discover that evil is not confined to their own world. Unfortunately, if Kate has her way, there won’t be anything to keep the two worlds separate and the evils the mortals can conceive will be the least of their concerns.
At the end of the sixteenth century, religious upheaval brings fear, superstition, and doubt to the lives of mortals. Yet unbeknownst to them, another world lies just beyond the Veil: the realm of the Sithe, a fierce and beautiful people for whom a full-mortal life is but the blink of an eye. The Veil protects and hides their world…but it is fraying at the edges, and not all think it should be repaired.
Discarded by his mother and ignored by his father, sixteen-year-old Seth MacGregor has grown up half wild in his father’s fortress, with only his idolized older brother, Conal, for family. When Conal quarrels with the Sithe queen and is forced into exile in the full-mortal world, Seth volunteers to go with him.
But life beyond the Veil is even more dangerous than they expected, and Seth and Conal soon find themselves embroiled in a witch-hunt—in which they are the quarry. Trapped between the queen’s machinations at home and the superstitious violence of the otherworld, Seth must act before both of them are fed to the witch-hunters’ fires…
Brimming with intrigue and rebellion, Firebrand is the first book in the Rebel Angels series by Gillian Philip, the Carnegie Medal–nominated author of Crossing the Line and multi-award-nominated Bad Faith.