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Monday, February 2, 2015

Along the Far Shores by Kristin Gleeson

I'm happy to be able to write this review on the occasion of Along the Far Shores's new copyedited edition. This inspired, unusual tale now reaches readers free of errors.

All Aisling wants is to be near her brother. Since their parents died, he's all she has. His half-hearted attempts to marry her off to an aging lord before he embarks on a ship to "the western lands" leaves her undaunted. She stows away and makes herself useful on board until an Atlantic storm gives the first villain of the book the chance to toss her overboard.

Her good fortune washes her ashore somewhere on the Yucatán in the care of two misfits. Caxna, from the far north, is completely foreign to Aisling, but he seems trustworthy from the first moments. The rest of the novel keeps up a fast pace but simultaneously takes the time to let the reader feel Aisling becoming more familiar with her surroundings and more aware of the stakes of the next journey she embarks on with Caxna.

On the way to their final destination, Ailsing and Caxna meet new people who are not always what they seem, face betrayals, and save each others' lives. The detailed, well researched, portrayal of cities in twelfth-century Mexico and the American South made me feel I had been there. Normally, when today's readers pick up a book about the twelfth century, the European setting itself is the foreign country. Seeing America from Aisling's point of view brought both worlds into intimate focus.

Along the Far Shores has sympathetic characters and great villains, unforgettable settings and an ending that satisfies thoroughly without spelling out exactly what happens to the characters, leaving some room for the reader's imagination. I recommend it to any reader who's looking for something different.

Read about the inspiration for this unique book here.

This is the second book I'm counting toward my 2015 reading goal. The other book I've completed in 2015:
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell