Hild: A Novel by Nicola Griffith is released today. I'm cheating because this isn't really a fairy tale retelling. But I am sure many readers here will be interested in this book. I'm not aware of any other novels about St. Hilda of Whitby, there probably are, but they would be rare, and this is new and is well-reviewed. And the cover is gorgeous which always helps despite knowing better as readers, right?
And I'm not cheating too much since stories of saints are part of folklore--I'm not discounting their weight as religious tales--but it's inarguable that legends and lores of saints have impacted other folklore and vice versa.
And I admit to knowing little to nothing about Hild who is mostly known through her appearance in The Ecclesiastical History of the English by the Venerable Bede from the 8th century AD. And since she is a patron saint of learning and culture, I find her all the most fascinating.
A brilliant, lush, sweeping historical novel about the rise of one of the most powerful woman of the Middle Ages: Hild
In seventh-century Britain, small kingdoms are merging, frequently and violently. A new religion is coming ashore; the old gods are struggling, their priests worrying. Hild is the king's youngest niece, and she has a glimmering mind and a natural, noble authority. She will become a fascinating woman and one of the pivotal figures of the Middle Ages: Saint Hilda of Whitby.
But now she has only the powerful curiosity of a bright child, a will of adamant, and a way of seeing the world--of studying nature, of matching cause with effect, of observing her surroundings closely and predicting what will happen next--that can seem uncanny, even supernatural, to those around her.
Her uncle, Edwin of Northumbria, plots to become overking of the Angles, ruthlessly using every tool at his disposal: blood, bribery, belief. Hild establishes a place for herself at his side as the king's seer. And she is indispensable--unless she should ever lead the king astray. The stakes are life and death: for Hild, for her family, for her loved ones, and for the increasing numbers who seek the protection of the strange girl who can read the world and see the future.
Hild is a young woman at the heart of the violence, subtlety, and mysticism of the early Middle Ages--all of it brilliantly and accurately evoked by Nicola Griffith's luminous prose. Working from what little historical record is extant, Griffith has brought a beautiful, brutal world to vivid, absorbing life.