I have been planning to write this post for nearly a year but for some reason all attempts seemed to fail. I couldn't find the angle I wanted I guess. Then, last night, driving to work a magnificent heron flew across my line of vision, and I thought to myself "I wish I was at Stonewylde". And that, I guess, was my lightbulb moment.
I have also been wanting to start a series of posts along the lines of "The book that....." to highlight some of the books that have influenced my reading life. This post will also contain the first of these I guess, but more on that later.
The Stonewylde series consists of 5 books, starting with Magus of Stonewylde. In 'Magus' we meet Sylvie, the joint lead in the story. She is in hospital, due to being allergic to modern living. As a possible cure, or at least a chance of respite, she is offered the chance, with her mother, to go to Stonewylde, an enclosed community in the heart of the English countryside. At Stonewylde the people live a more self sufficient life and follow the old ways. It is an idyllic place and Sylvie soon starts to adapt to the way of life and her health starts to improve.
While at Stonewylde she starts up a friendship with a young man, Yul but it is frowned on, as the leader of the community, Magus, despises Yul and is determined to make his life a misery. This is where you start to see the dark underside to Stonewylde, and believe me, at times it really is brutal enough to make you wince as you read.
I am not going into too much detail of the story here as I have already posted reviews elsewhere. Here I just want to say how much the books affected me. The community itself felt like somewhere I would want to be. The author Kit Berry being very knowledgeable about the 'old ways' and the festival's. The descriptions of the lifestyle, the flora and fauna all touch the soul and leave you with a sense of the magic. A truly beautiful series.
The series is set in two parts, the first three covering the arrival of Sylvie, Magus' reign of terror and his battles with Yul. The second set is the books four and five which see (SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!) Yul and Sylvie grown up and running Stonewylde. Things are good for now, Stonewylde is thriving, but evil is never far away and Yul and Sylvie's love will be tested and threatened.
The third and fourth books also introduces their children and more of the beauty and magic of Stonewylde as the modern world starts to encroach.
And this brings me to........
THE BOOK THAT BROKE ME!
That may sound a bit over dramatic but believe me Shaman of Stonewylde, the fifth and final book in the series left me emotionally ruined like no book before or since (and this is testament to Kit Berry's skill as an author.)
In 'Shaman' Stonewylde is facing it's darkest hour. Yul and Sylvie are more or less estranged, dark shadows loom over Stonewylde and things look beyond saving. The overall feeling is that the story ends with a death. I expected that, I even had it in my mind who would die. I didn't like it but I knew it was coming so I prepared.
I was wrong. It wasn't who I expected and prepared for.
It was so much more shocking than that! I'm not ashamed to say this book brought me to tears. Even now, writing this, I can feel the trickles on my spine.
It's taken me a year to write this, and only now do I feel I'm ready to go back and reread this wonderful, beautiful, emotional series of books.
So, the gates of Stonewylde are opening for me again, I'm going back. Why not join me.
MY FINAL WORDS ON STONEWYLDE
Easy enough this bit. All I need to say is THANK YOU Kit Berry for writing these books and for being someone I think of as a friend. Job well done lass ;-)