Alban used to be a peaceful land where magic was a regular part of life; magically gifted people, called "canny," protected the villages and took care of Alban's citizens. Now, the evil King Keldec has abolished the use of magic and forced the people to forget everything about old Alban, with its fairies and happy songs. Everyone lives in fear of King Keldec and his horrible army of "canny," which he has convinced to do bad instead of good. Neryn is one of the few "canny" people who still remains untouched by Keldec; she has to constantly run for her life with her father in fear of being captured. After her father gambles her off to a man named Flint, she runs away on her own, using her ability to talk to the fairies to help her get to Shadowfell, a stronghold of rebels in the far North where Keldec's influence hasn't reached yet. She wishes to become one of these rebels, using her ability for good. But the journey is perilous, and she is constantly being pursued by Flint and Keldec's army. Will she make it to Shadowfell safely and figure out if she can trust Flint and travel with him to Shadowfell?
This book is one of my favorites. The plot is exceptionally well-written; Alban has been thoroughly developed, making the reader able to paint a picture in their mind. I especially enjoy the mysterious character of Flint; he livens up the plot and captures the reader's attention. The book cuts off abruptly at the end, causing much anticipation for the next book in the series. Overall, this book is a great fantasy read by Juliet Marillier that is very suspensful and exciting. I would recommend this book to ages 12 and up for some advanced vocabulary and mature content.