Book Four, The Child of the Erinyes
by Rebecca Lochlann
562 pages, Erinyes Press
Review by Melissa Conway
I was given an advanced reading copy of this novel. I am also acquainted with the author through social media, however, that is not an admission that this review is biased. If I don’t like an author’s writing, I won’t finish reading it, and because I’m loath to do anything that might compromise my professional integrity, I wouldn’t dream of giving a positive review to a book that didn’t deserve it.
The Sixth Labyrinth is the second offering in the second trilogy of Rebecca Lochlann’s the Child of the Erinyes series. At 562 pages, it is a BIG novel with three books included, The Reunion, The Discovery, and The Pilgrimage. Readers who enjoy immersing themselves in epic novels will appreciate this installment.
In the first trilogy, we met the bold princess torn between two compelling men, one dark, one light. This threesome, as well as several other characters in their orbit, is cursed by the goddess Athene to be reincarnated repeatedly over the course of thousands of years. Seven lifetimes they are fated to live, through prosperity and hardship, trust and betrayal, love and heartbreak, until they appease Athene for humanity’s loss of faith in her.
This incarnation takes place in the mist-shrouded Scottish highlands of the nineteenth century. Our princess is now a lass named Morrigan, working under the crushing thumb of her father in a humble inn. Morrigan tries to be a dutiful daughter, but her adventurous spirit tempts her with fanciful thoughts of exotic people and places. Her father’s heart is dark, tainted by the brutal Clearings that killed Morrigan’s mother in childbirth. Not only must she submit to his vicious idea of discipline, but she is tormented by horrendous nightmares and plagued by headaches and fainting spells, unaware that these are flashes of memory from her former lives.
Feminism is a concept that appears throughout Lochlann’s writing. In the princess’s first life, she lived in a thriving matrilineal society that worshiped Athene, but in subsequent lives she is subjected to the abuses men heaped upon women throughout history. We get tantalizing glimpses into the beginning of the end of this unfairness through the author’s description of the political climate of late nineteenth century Britain that led to the formation of the women’s suffrage movement.
The Sixth Labyrinth is fairly bursting with historical detail. Not only does Lochlann boast some impressive researching skills, but she’s got the uncommon ability to build a vivid sense of place and time without making the reader’s eyes glaze over from too much description. Her other strength is her gift for weaving enchantment into the story; the prose is steeped in mysticism, adroitly drawing the reader into the characters’ emotions and temperament.
The pervading atmosphere, even during moments of joy, is somber, and the tension builds slowly through action and reaction. The story has elements of horror, from that which underlies the struggle of daily life, as well as through the paranormal aspect of dark magic as our princess and her lovers are pursued through time by a malevolent sorcerer. The suspense is amplified layer by layer until it all comes crashing down in a shocking, yet satisfying conclusion.