Retro Friday Review: The Wind-Witch by Susan Dexter

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.
It's been quite some time since I came across a book this good. The Wind-Witch first popped up on my radar after a guest post Angie did over at Fantasy Cafe for her Women in SF & F series on under appreciated books in the genre. Truth be told, I had already read (and adored) a large percentage of the books she listed, so naturally, I glommed onto this one with promises of good things to come. And like so many other times, Angie's pick proved fantastic. First-rate. Marvelous. Superb. Well, you get the idea...

Druyan has lived her life as the dutiful daughter. Marrying when she was told, putting her talents to the skills deemed 'appropriate' for women. When her husband is unexpectedly killed, Druyan finds herself on a precipice -- submit meekly once again to her uncle, the Duke's, choice of a new husband or keep her loss private and work, work, work for a year and a day proving her holding profitable and become her own master. For once, Druyan follows her heart and chooses the latter. With the help of her meager farm help, her mythical horse Valadan and the unsuspecting raider turned farmhand, Kellis, Druyan begins to make Splaine Garth her own.

But Kellis is not simply a wounded foreigner hoping to pay a blood debt by working Druyan's farm. Cursed (or blessed) with the gift of sight, Kellis begins to see warnings of raiders invading Esdragon and even as he warns his Lady not to trust the visions, she is not content to simply do nothing. Each time Kellis scrys a vision of destruction, Druyan rushes off, fleet as the wind on the back of Valadan, to warn the unsuspecting victims. But Kellis cannot find it in himself to let his Lady ride off alone, unprotected, and their headlong flights bring unwanted scrutiny when they want it the least.

Heavens above, I think I fell in love with this one wholeheartedly from the very first sentence. First of all, it's full of lovely writing with a sloooow buildup of tension that I found myself all but gripping the pages in earnest concern as Druyan hurled herself into harms way time and again. Susan Dexter is such a wonderful storyteller. Truly. Her detailed passages of daily farm life contrasted against the looming threat of war never failed to thrust me right into the moment. Each sentence seemed to be crafted with such a loving touch that I wanted to mull over each word individually and digest them slowly.

Druyan has something of the wild wind within her (as you can gather from the title) but it has been battered down so thoroughly all her life, that the gradual loosening she allows was pure magic. Her quiet determination to save her farm, her friends, even her country utterly entranced me as I was constantly awed by her courage and loyalty. Under Kellis' careful and watchful eye, she becomes a woman of her own making and I loved every minute of it. I cannot recommend this treasure heartily enough and you better believe I've got the rest of the series already queued up in the TBR pile.

series reading order:
~ The Prince of Ill Luck
~ The Wind-Witch
~ The True Knight

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
All About Romance review
Angieville review
Stewartry review

book source: bought


Liviania said...

Angie has ridiculously good taste in books. I'll have to find a copy of this one.

Angiegirl said...

Ahh! I love everything about this review. So awesome you love Druyan and Kellis, too. :)

Janicu said...

I have to look into this series...

Heidi said...

Since this is the second book in the series (but there didn't seem to be any spoilers), is this one of companion type novels you can read in any order? This sounds wonderful! I love strong women (of course), but you don't often get to read about a woman who's gone along her whole life coming into her own.

Chachic said...

I must have missed Angie's review of this! It looks like something that I'd enjoy so I'm adding it to the wishlist. Looks like it's out of print though so I don't think I'll be able to read it anytime soon.

Michelle said...

Liviania - She does indeed.

Angie - Druyan and Kellis. *sighs*

Janice - Yes, DO!

Heidi- I actually haven't read book 1 or 3 yet, and have heard this are more 'companion' type novels. So I don't think you necessarily have to read them in order. But do pick this one up, it's perfect.

Chachic - well, I'll have to see what I can do about getting a copy headed your way, cause it is too good to miss.

April (BooksandWine) said...

Oh, this one sounds utterly fantastic, plus as you said Angie's recommendations are always first-rate.

I am going to add this to my wish list, because sigh. I love books with characters who get visions and all that noise. LOVE.