TITLE: Legacy of Hunger
AUTHOR: Christy Nicholas
INFO: Fiction, 288 pages
PUBLISHED: Tirgearr, 2015
SOURCE: Received from Publisher for Review
SOURCE: Received from Publisher for Review
ABOUT: Valentia is a privileged young woman from a wealthy farming family in 19th century Ohio. Her grandmother had been a storyteller, weaving tales of romance and adventure from her native Ireland, and told her granddaughter of a special family heirloom – a brooch that had been left behind with her family. Valentia decides that she must find her grandmother’s long-lost family, as well as the brooch. She has disturbing dreams featuring the brooch and sees strange lights whenever she looks at the drawing.
As she travels with her brother (Conor), his valet (Brendan) and her ladies’ maid (Maggie) through Pittsburgh and New York, Valentia’s eyes take in the wide world.
In Ireland, crippled by chronic illness, she learns about the Irish famine from some local activists. She becomes intrigued with the movement, and vows to help in what ways she can. She befriends Siobhan and Aiden, siblings. Siobhan shows her a stone circle, and she has a mystical experience.
When she has recovered, she travels north to Donegal. When she finally does find the town her grandmother came from, she is confronted with an imperious great-aunt (Eithne) and a rather bumbling cousin who falls in love with her.
The cousin (Donal) starts to court her, and after some time, Donal proposes to her, but she turns him down, determined to finish her quest first. The parting upsets them both.
Chasing rumors of her other great-aunt (Esme), she travels south. Valentia finally finds Esme in Kenmare, and the brooch, which has hidden powers
After finding Valentia’s power, Esme begins to succumb to her own illness. Valentia tries to heal it, but at a great cost.
Valentia had hoped to settle in Kenmare, at Esme’s house, but she is driven out and travels back to Donegal, stopping to the asylum where Donal is held, but is unable to heal him. Eithne has died, so Valentia takes over the estate, healing local people where she can, discreetly.
Grandmamma’s brooch haunted Valentia’s dreams.
Even as she relaxed at afternoon tea with her mother, the lace doily reminded her of the delicate intertwining design of the brooch. That, in turn, reminded her of the task she had fixed her mind upon.
She was tired of always settling for the smallest bits of the good things in life. Perhaps it was time to take larger chunks.
Valentia’s corset pinched as she leaned towards the tea tray, reaching for a large cake on the upper tier.
“Control yourself, Valentia, or you’ll end up looking like one of those Pittsburgh steel workers.” Majesta McDowell was always aware of appearances. From the servant’s area, one of the maids sniggered.
Grimacing at her mother, Valentia reached for a much smaller piece when she heard shouts, but not the normal sound of a foreman yelling at his workers.
It sounded like panic.
Several patrons stood to look out the plate glass window of the café. Though she was tall for a woman, all Valentia could see were the backs of strangers, and occasionally someone running in the street.
A sharp crack accompanied a muffled explosion. Clouds of dust billowed, and Valentia fought her rising dread.
People in the café jammed the door, trying to escape.
Valentia, her mother, and their maids, Sarah and Maggie, pushed out of the stifling building. Panicked voices screamed amid crashes, all from a street not far away, in the direction of the Monongahela House Hotel.
Where they had been staying.
Her mind raced in panic, her stomach tied in a knot. Trying to make sense of the chaos, she looked the maids and her mother. She was transfixed, staring at the looming threat.
A menacing column of black, oily smoke billowed from the riverside, a searing blanket of menace. The smell of burning wood filled the air.
A church bell tolled. She suppressed her terror and took charge.
MY TAKE: I enjoyed this story set in Ireland during the deadly potato blight and famine. The author obviously did painstaking research to bring the reader fully into the time period and action. This is the kind of historical fiction I relish as I become immersed in the era and Ms. Nicholas makes you feel a part of the story.
Valentia, while obviously strong-willed, came across a bit naive at times. But her search across time periods and continents made for an interesting tale and does show her strength of character and her desire to help change the fates of those in her care. I liked the touch of magic/mysticism that seems to echo through Ireland at all times.
I recommend this first book and am looking forward to the next installment in this Druid's Brooch series.
My name is Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon. I do many things, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing and photography. In real life I'm a CPA, but having grown up with art and around me (my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected me, as it were. I love to draw and to create things. It's more of an obsession than a hobby. I like looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or a fragrant blossom, a dramatic seaside. I then wish to take a picture or create a piece of jewelry to share this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others. Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus I write. Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. I do local art and craft shows, as well as sending my art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.
I live in Warfordsburg, PA with my husband, Jason, my cat, Spot, my dog, Dax, and two sugar gliders named Arya and Sansa.
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