Bravely by Maggie Stiefvater
The narrative captures the essence of family life: the messy, complicated, frustrating all-of-it. DunBroch castle is brimming with busy, boisterous interactions. “You jam-handed scab!” Merida lashes out at her brother.
Her parents and three younger brothers are dimensional individuals who change as the story progresses. The evolving relationship between mother and daughter is particularly touching.
As with all her novels, Stiefvater's prose is masterful. She embroiders scenes with her characteristic slightly acerbic wit and ear for language.
Signature motifs are sprinkled throughout the text: gloves with oxblood stitching, "the Sight," and a knock at the door.
Just when readers think they know what comes next, the plot takes a one-eighty. The ending is what I hoped for but believed could never happen. Bravely took my heart on a tender journey.
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Disclosure: I have not viewed the Pixar movie Brave and can affirm that the book stands independent of the movie. However, now that I have read the book, I want to view this version of young Merida. How does the impetuous sixteen-year-old compare with the young woman in her early twenties, searching for answers, longing to resolve the incomplete pieces of her life.
Dásachtach, Donald II, King of Scotland. Known as the Madman.
Scotland. Photos posted online by the author.
Images of the goddess Cailleach as imagined by various artists.