Book Reviews

Book Review: The Harmonious Blacksmith

By Susanna M. Newstead

Published December 2021

323 pages

** This review contains spoilers**

In 1200, Guy Ferrier, the blacksmith of East Kennet, decides to take a wife.  Thus opens this medieval tale of love, revenge, and second chances.  

Guy is known for his lovely singing voice and ability to make up songs as he works at his forge.  He has a successful occupation and is well-liked.  Finding a wife should be easy.  But there is no one in his village for him to marry, so he ventures further afield and falls for the local Lord’s daughter, Adela.  The attraction is mutual but since he is a commoner, they cannot marry.   

Adela’s fiance dislikes the attention his betrothed pays to the blacksmith and ambushes Guy.  The next day, the fiance is dead and Guy is accused of having a hand in his death through sorcery.  Rumors abound that Guy is in league with the Devil after his neighbor is miraculously brought back to life, and finding a bride is suddenly the least of Guy’s concerns.

This was a really sweet story.  Guy was well-rounded and thoroughly likable.  I loved the hints of magic, since most of the songs that Guy made up came to pass – despite being easily explained away as natural occurrences.  Leaving it up to the reader to interpret whether there was magic involved or not was well-played.  His neighbor, Nell, was a stand-out character as well.  She was loyal to her loved ones but didn’t hesitate to call out anyone she didn’t care for.  The subplots were also well fleshed out and kept the plot moving along.

However, I had several issues with this novel.  First off, I never felt the chemistry between Adela and Guy.  It was fairly obvious to me that Nell was perfect for him and I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t betrothed sooner.  Second, despite there being plenty of conflict, the book was light on tension.  Aside from Guy’s last encounter with the Courtenay cousins, every problem he encountered (and there were several) was reconciled easily and usually within one chapter.  Lastly, and it may have just been my kindle copy, the formatting drove me mad.  There was no rhyme or reason to the spacing, making it difficult to follow dialogue.

The ending lost me.  Perhaps because I never felt the love and/or longing between Adela and Guy in the first place, I didn’t understand the need to jump 900 years into the future and bring them back together.  I was perfectly content with the 13th century conclusion and the book could have ended there.  Not only did it feel contrived that everyone in that village was reincarnated at the same time (with almost the same names), the means of Guy remembering his past was, once again, too easy.  While it certainly happens that a person can remember flashes of a past life based on a place or a person, a complete download out of the blue is unlikely.  

I rated this novel 2.5 stars.

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

My rating system:

5 stars – Wow, I could not stop thinking about this book and/or I wish I’d writtn it.

4 stars – This was an awesome novel, I’d recommend it to friends.

3 stars – This was a good novel, I will look for more by this author.

2 stars – An okay novel, but I probably won’t look for anything else by the author.

There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

W. Somerset Maugham

1 thought on “Book Review: The Harmonious Blacksmith”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s