Marillier is a master of basing her fictitious novels around history, and has a firm grasp on some of the basic aspects of life and religion before Christianity overtook Britain.
Firstly, I enjoyed it. However..
There is much in this book, but it's central focus is on a love that cannot be, but is. And it kind of irked me. There was so much depth to play with here, but in the end I felt like I was reading a romance set in fantasy, rather than a fantasy containing romance. The ending was predictable but the struggle to get there was set at such a glacial pace! I was almost shouting at it to hurry up by the last few chapters. It's so glaringly obvious what the outcome would be, I wanted to slap the characters with their own book. The journey was just too long for a book with such a narrow scope. Sure, it played at the sides with bits and pieces to placate a fantasy reader but with no real consequence.
The world building was mediocre. If I wasn't already aware when this piece was set, I would've had no inkling as to it's time frame. If not for talk of druids, gods and chieftens, it could've been anytime before electricity was invented. I felt adrift. I wanted to see it, not just have it assumed I knew. Telling me there is a roaring hearth doesn't a picture make. I just wanted to feel the place and I didn't.
I liked the characters. But, I didn't want to do jigs for them. By the end, I was in despair that a I didn't really care about their struggles when I felt I should.
I am in two minds about reading the next in the series. I might be in the mood one day, who knows, maybe the Shining One will guide me back...