Book Review: Cattra’s Legacy, and Donnel’s Promise, by Anna Mackenzie

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Both of these books are available now in bookstores nationwide. 

Risha’s tale begins in the mountainous village of Torfell, shortly after her father’s death. Her life is about to change, and not necessarily for the better, as she is forced to leave her home and begin a journey across a perilous countryside, following the legacy of a mother she can barely remember.

It took me a while to warm to the story. The characterisation and writing style is very rich, vivid and lyrical, but for the first part of the journey Risha’s role in it is fairly passive. After making her initial decision, she then basically becomes caught up in it, events forcing her along with them. We are introduced to a large cast of characters − some of which have mere passing roles, others of which we will learn more of later.

Once Risha began to take control of her own life, to make decisions for herself, she became a much stronger character and from then on the tale became a far more engrosing one. There are some truly tense moments here and I enjoyed watching her develop friendships and establish relationships without any of the over-exaggerated romance-fluff so prevalent in teen novels. There are some hints of in which direction her heart may lead her, but that is precisely what I would expect from a 15-year old girl.

The final section of the book gets more heavily into the politics of the various kingdoms, and with quite a large cast of characters with conflicting views, some of it is likely to go over the younger reader’s head, but it builds to a fine crescendo and a nail-biting finale.

Overall, a skillfully woven tale of a young girl, who starts as a well-educated but naive lass, and develops into a somewhat more canny young lady.

Cattra’s Legacy
by Anna Mackenzie
Published by Longacre Press
ISBN 9781775533184

cv_donnels_promiseDonnel’s Promise

A strong follow-up to “Cattra’s Legacy”, this instalment establishes Risha as a worthy player in court politics. It has a better pacing, and she plays a more pro-active role in this volume, as she sets out on a tour of Havre with a small company, only to find themselves ambushed and thrust into the middle of a potential political uprising. Through their combined quick wits, and the support of loyal friends and subjects − including some we were introduced to in the first book − Risha must win back what is hers by right.

Risha is an admirable character, and many of the females are portrayed in bold, active roles. Whilst there are hints of potential future romance, the fact that this lies secondary to Risha’s personal growth leads power to the story and portrays her as a stronger role model to her teenage audience. I enjoyed both books, this one especially, and am eager to see where Risha’s journey takes her next.

Donnel’s Promise
by Anna Mackenzie
Published by Random House NZ 
ISBN 9781775535461 

Both books are reviewed by Angela Oliver