The story unfolds from Elen's point of view. An interesting character, to say the least, Elen lives life on a prayer. When her family was killed in a raid on her home and the leader of the raid nearly killed, Elen heals him and spins a lie: "Owain ap Cadwgan, son of the king of Powys, cannot be killed, not by blade nor blow nor poison. Owain ap Cadwgan has the protection of Saint Elen, as long as he keeps her namesake safe from harm and near him always." For three years, Elen has lived with her abusers, safe because of this lie. She is forced to be as ruthless and cunning as the warband that protects her. One wrong move, one misstep and they could easily turn on her. Her list begin to unravel when Owain abducts Nest, the wife of a nearby lord.
Nest is a turning point for Elen. Elen sees Nest as regal and unflinching despite her circumstances. As the two form a friendship, Elen begins imagining her life outside of Owain. She dreams of the day where she can look to a future, instead of praying to survive the day. I enjoyed the friendship that develops between the two women. It occurs naturally throughout the story, rather being forced.
As I already mentioned, this is well-researched novel. I appreciate that the author didn't try to romanticize the era. Instead, Coats describes the brutality of the time-period through Elen's eyes. As the reader, you understand what is happening and why because for Elen it is everyday life.
Overall, I enjoyed Spindle Dagger. Elen is stronger than she gives herself credit for. Her development throughout the book is subtle, and I found myself rooting for her by the end. If you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend this beautiful yet brutal novel.
- Strong female lead