Fear not the beasts in your stories — with a stout blade and a stouter heart, become the thing they fear.
When her sleepy village is raided by the Vulkari, the fearsome warrior women of the Ancient Wilds, only Zyntael Fairwinter is taken.
Claimed as a daughter by their infamous matriarch, Zyntael is trained to hunt, to fight, and to kill—all for a purpose, which remains ever out of her grasp.
In the company of their unruly young, she might find sisterhood. In their unique customs and beliefs, she might find beauty. And in the violence of their raids, she might even find glory.
But it is the reason for her capture that Zyntael truly seeks. It is a truth that must be earned from the very Spirits of the dead; a future paid for in the blood of those Zyntael once called her own. It is a purpose that promises the liberation of not just she, but of all the Ancient Wilds, from an evil far greater than any marauding warrior women.
The Vulkari, however, are not like other women. The Vulkari are monsters.
And sometimes, only the truly monstrous have what it takes to save the world.
Daughter of the Beast is the first book in the Slavic inspired Vyshivka trilogy, written by E C Greaves, and has been recently declared as SPFBO9 finalist. Inside this book, we will find a grin fantasy (intended), which blends in unique ways a coming of age story with a travel of self-discovery inside a group that was not the native one for our protagonist, Zyntael.
The story starts with Zyntael being kidnapped when the Vulkari (the warrior women of the mountain) raid her village; and surprisingly, she is claimed as a daughter by their matriarch. At her eleven-year-old, Zyntael has a long way in front, and as such, she is trained to hunt, fight and protect herself. However, a question always appears but is never answered: why was she chosen by the Vulkari?
A mystery that will be always flying around our main character, in a story where found family and growth become the key pieces on the narrative plot; Zyntael is different among those she's growing with, but she's a part of the group, even taking those details into account.
All the story is told using Zyntael's voice, an excellent decision that helps to give a layer of complexity to it, while at the same time, coating all with the innocence that comes from the lack of experience which progressively disappears at the same time her horizons broad.
Greaves has nailed the worldbuilding, imbuing it with complex politics between the different creatures that are part of it; personally I enjoyed how many of those become important pieces of Zyntael's story, especially the Goblins. You can guess the Slavic influences at many details.
Daughter of the Beast is an excellent debut, a book that can be loved by a wide audience, as there are points that will be enjoyed by different public. While first part of the Zyntael's journey is finished, can't wait to continue it on Sister of the Dead.