Book Review: Hild – Nicola Griffith

Hild coverTitle: Hild
Author: Nicola Griffith
ISBN: 9780374280871
Pages: 560
Release Date: November 12, 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Things are changing quickly in seventh-century Britain. Hild, the king’s young niece, seems to have abilities to predict the future that can’t be explained, and so she becomes the seer for the king. As the years pass and Hild’s reputation grows, she becomes more widely respected as she sets her people on a new course, changing their destinies. But the higher she climbs, the further she has to fall, as she raises the stakes with every prediction she makes.

Bloggers Recommend November Pick:

Hild by Nicola Griffith (November 12, Farrar, Straus & Giroux) Hild transports us to seventh-century Britain to tell the story of St. Hilda of Whitby, the king’s niece and a seer who changes the course of history for her people. Though it might seem like a daunting read, Griffith’s excellent sense of place and history and her impeccable attention to detail bring this amazing young woman to life. —Swapna Krishna

Full Review:

Hild is an intimidating book. At over 500 pages, it’s quite the lengthy tome. It’s surprising, then, how quickly the pages turn; upon picking the novel up, readers will find that it is actually not a difficult read. This isn’t a book you have to slog through. There’s a lot going on, and quite a few characters to keep track of; at times it can be confusing, but it’s never slow or boring. Griffith accomplished quite a bit with this intriguing novel.

The title character of Hild is certainly interesting. Hild is a precocious child who always seems older than her years. At times it’s jarring to remember how young she is, even as she’s growing up. This isn’t a fault on the writer’s part; it’s a purposeful decision, intended to show how Hild was forced to act like an adult at a very young age, allowing herself to be used by those around her. Hild understands that her family’s fortunes rest on her shoulders alone; it’s a large burden for such a young girl to have. Readers will enjoy getting to know Hild, as she’s well written and Griffith makes sure that she has a confident, distinctive voice that carries the novel.

Griffith brings seventh-century Britain to life for the reader in Hild. In all types of historical fiction, whether literary or not, a sense of place is everything when it comes to the book. Griffith’s is really unparalleled; this world takes hold of the reader from the very first page. Griffiths thrusts the reader into this violent, chaotic arena with little warning; only when you come up for air do you realize how all-encompassing her setting really is. Her attention to detail and well-researched history only add to the wonderful sense of place.

Hild is by no means an easy read—the sheer number of characters, length, and complex storyline make sure of that—but that doesn’t have to mean it’s a hard, difficult one. No, Hild is a book that will absolutely suck the reader in, but it will keep your brain engaged the entire time you’re experiencing it. It’s a book you have to put some effort into, but you’re rewarded with an amazingly written story, an incredible setting, and a main character who truly has the ability to change the world.

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  1. Oh, this sounds like it totally has my name all over it. I remember seeing it a while back, but I had completely forgotten about it. I like a book that can be a little challenging, but has a good balance, too.

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