Stott blends fascinating historical details about the Seax (Saxon) culture with myth and fantasy. The two narrators are daughters of the Great Smith who have been banished to a mudflat island.
Seax culture is full of rules. Women are not even allowed to step foot in the smithy shop since it is considered a male domain. Ignoring these rules, Isla has worked as her father’s striker. He has taught her the coveted craft of forging Firetongues.
When he unexpectedly passes, the girls place in society suddenly changes. They suddenly need to get off the island and claim kin law–ask Osric for protection. Instead of gaining his protection, however the sisters gain Osric and his son’s (Vort’s) wrath. They must flee the camp and enter the ghost city, the remains of Londinium, where most Seax fear to enter.
While the ghost city and its inhabitant give them a much needed shelter, leaving the ruined city is a necessity. Blue wants to wait for Cassius but Isla fears this is a mistake. If they wait too long, winter will find them. Besides, Senna tells them that trackers can breach the city, especially after the Seax offer a reward for the sisters’ capture.
Even without a man’s protection, these sisters do more than survive in this dark ages adventure–they triumph.
This novel is written for adults but it will likely have a lot of cross over appeal to young adults.