Review: Domnall and the Borrowed Child

cover-domnall and the borrowed childTitle: Domnall and the Borrowed Child
Author: Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
Series: ?
Genre: Fantasy
Length: Novella
Available: November 10th


The best and bravest faeries fell in the war against the Sluagh, and now the Council is packed with idiots and cowards. Domnall is old, aching, and as cranky as they come, but as much as he’d like to retire, he’s the best scout the Sithein court has left.

When a fae child falls deathly ill, Domnall knows he’s the only one who can get her the medicine she needs: Mother’s milk. The old scout will face cunning humans, hungry wolves, and uncooperative sheep, to say nothing of his fellow fae!

Source: ARC from Tor via NetGalley

This is a cute, quick read about Scottish seelie fae and changelings from the other side of the fence. Domnall is quite the character, being old and set in his ways and infuriated by the current ruling council’s cowardly actions. He remembers a time before his kind were so terrified of humans, when they would go out and dance fairy rings amongst the bluebells, not send out a bunch of ill-trained youngsters to gather the morning dew so the rest of the fae can stay safe inside.

Since he’s one of the only old scouts left, it’s Domnall who gets the task of trading a sick fae for a changeling child, in the hope that mother’s milk will save her. From there it’s a thankless task as Domnall moves from one hapless idea to another as he tries to save the fae and make everything right again.

As I said, this is cute. However, you will need a fairly good grounding in Scottish seelie tales because there’s very little world-building done here. It’s impossible to know what Domnall or any of his friends actually look like (except small), because the only things that get described are the terrible clothes that Tam wears. It would have been nice to have had a little more context to the fae war as well, and an explanation of just why the survivors were so feeble. Surely Domnall isn’t the only old, dissenting fae amongst them?

The plot itself is fun as far as it goes. Poor Domnall definitely doesn’t have a good few nights as he tries to sort everything out, but the for me the ending left too much unfinished or unsaid. In fact nothing is resolved. Domnall’s part might be over… perhaps… but other aspects aren’t cleared up that I wish had been, and even Domnall’s own situation is uncertain.

So while I did enjoy this and read it quickly enough, it felt incomplete to me, as though only a small glimpse of something intended to be much larger. If you’re a fan of all things fae, then you’ll probably find things to enjoy here, but if you’re not all that familiar with the traditional folklore, then maybe this isn’t for you.

Domnall and the Borrowed Child is out November 10th!
Visit Sylvia Spruck Wrigley for more details.


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