I was so excited when The Stone of Destiny was published by Cranachan Press last year, as soon as I heard the words selkies and Fae I was sold, but there is much more to Caroline Logan’s series The Four Treasures as our journey into her world begins with a quest to retrieve a magical artefact.
With the imminent release of the sequel I thought I would review the first in the series to get people excited to discover this series too.
Ailsa has been doing JUST FINE all alone these years after she was driven from her village after her mother’s death, blamed for all ills for her unfortunate birthmark on her face she has spent her life having the word ‘Changeling’ spat in her face.
Her life is turned upside down when she hears the screams of a young woman and an injured seal being chased by raiders prompting a melee that results in her two surprises; the first is that the woman and seal are in fact selkie siblings and second she is recruited as bodyguard to escort them to the King’s Castle on a secret mission.
Upon arrival things are not as they appear and Ailsa, the male Selkie Harris and the younger son of the dying King are tasked with retrieving the Stone of Destiny, a magical stone needed to crown the new King or his reign shall be cursed.
But it is not that simple, with raiders along the coast, and the Wicked Faerie Queen prepared to do all to stop them, the stakes are high and the journey perilous.
With one backwards glance, Ailsa left her home, sure that she would be back before the month was over.
The plot is follows the path of a classic quest to bring this enchanted stone back to prevent a cursed coronation which with its faerie setting itself is a brilliantly immersive and exciting adventure story.
Yet it also has tones of Malificent with the background context of a wicked faerie queen chained by iron by mortal man on the throne, and although not stripped of her wings, her power and a secret has been taken and hidden from her.
Alongside this we have the gender flipped reluctant hero nobody Ailsa, the outcast who by accident of circumstances must accompany this quest and uncover truths about herself in the process alongside a rather flirtatious red-headed Selkie Lord searching for his purpose and the future King’s playful yet surprisingly deep younger brother.
It’s all just utter escapist fantasy adventure perfection with its quasi-historical fantasy setting inspired by Scotland and it has magic too…. sigh.
If Nicnevan rises again and takes over Eilanmòr you won’t be able to escape the hell she will unleash. Anywhere
I love the idea that this develops a mythological version of the real Stone of Destiny also known as The Stone of Scone is a real historical artefact with a tumultuous history, something I delighted in seeing reference to as I have warm affection for this since I read Terry Pratchett’s The Fifth Elephant which parodies it as the Scone of Stone a fossilised bread that is essential in royal coronations of his Dwarf race. Similarly this Stone of Destiny is imperative to bless and secure the future King’s reign.
I’ll admit, this will sound so strange but the opening chapters and part of the way Caroline Logan writes have me this nostalgic and don’t get me wrong this is a compliment, is a hint of Katie Morag- this self-sufficient girl at one with the land she lives on, a breathy air, careful choice of words, neat and succinct yet totally soaked in atmosphere writing style, challenging female stereotypes whether that be strength or acting as a guard to faery-kind and man. Of course Logan’s style builds from this into a wonderful immersive and detailed narrative with immediate world building that draws the reader in. Of course then it builds into deeper and more mystical elements.
Ailsa was still tense and stuff at the bow of the craft. She hugged herself tighter and gazed at the night sky. The Reflection of the twinkling stars danced in her eyes, the moonlight turning her skin pale like ice, her expression just as cold. If he were to write a melody based on the moment it would be melancholy and sorrowful, played on a single fiddle. He fell asleep imagining the notes, letting the music carry him to unconsciousness.
I loved the fact that Caroline drew on ‘Real’ folklore Fae, the darker side of Celtic mythology rather than Tinkerbell and Cecily Mary Barker. Logan writes of Kelpies, danger and glamourie not sparkly flower fairies and dewdrops and danced freckles, but those of a moral compass unlike that of human, not always aware of how their trickery and delights may affect.
As a lover of folklore and mythology it always delights to see the more earthy, trickster side of Fae explored whether for good or bad rather than perpetuating benevolent flutters of glitter.
Changeling stories are something that has captured my imagination since childhood. hearing of faery children left in exchange for sickly human ones has always fascinated me especially as a child I always felt so different from others and a deep affinity for folklore, magical things and such I often wondered if I myself was a Changeling!
Ailsa’s Changeling label explored here reflects real historical British attitudes where those with birthmarks were labelled as marked by the faeries and often blamed for mishaps and tragedies befalling their communities. The deeply superstitious and fearful response of some entangled with the quieter opinions of it being a blessing is fantastic to see and adds to the confusion Ailsa feels in her identity which she insists is human.
‘Have I ever told you the story of the faeries, my loves?’
Overall, this adventure quest is a wild start to the Four Treasures series and with seeding paths and last minute cliffhangers has left me aching to continue the story and discover more about this world and Ailsa’s story.
Of course I am lucky to have an early copy of The Cauldron of Life by Caroline Logan releasing this week, so I’m dropping this review now in the hope I have whet your appetites to read The Stone of Destiny and preorder The Cauldron of Life (review pending!!)
A Four Treasures Novel: The Stone of Destiny by Caroline Logan is published by Gobstopper/Cranachan Press