An epic, feminist retelling of Arthurian legend. Sometimes you need a crystal ball to crack a glass ceiling.
Good to know
Based on a classic
Why I love it
BOTM Editorial Team
When I was a tween, I went through a brief but intense period of watching every King Arthur adaptation I could find. (It’s a long story.) And while I’m no expert, I like to think all those hours gave me a pretty good grasp of Arthurian legend. Yet when I saw that Laura Sebastian had written a feminist retelling starring Elaine, my first thought was, Awesome!, and my second thought was, Who on earth is Elaine...?
In my defense, it’s not that surprising I’d forgotten who she was; as legend has it, Elaine really gets the short end of the stick. But in Half Sick of Shadows, Elaine is much more than a lovesick woman locked in a tower—instead, she’s a powerful prophetess. As a girl, Elaine practices magic on Avalon island, bonding with Guinevere, Morgana, Lancelot, and Arthur. But as her visions develop, she is haunted by possible futures filled with betrayal and death. When the friends journey to Camelot on a quest to make Arthur king, Elaine wrestles with her foreknowledge, wondering how much she must sacrifice to fulfill her destiny.
Half Sick of Shadows has all the touchstones of great Arthurian stories: the conflict between duty and desire, the hope for a better future, the pull of forbidden love. But it also breathes fresh life into the legend’s women: free-spirited Guinevere, strong-willed Morgana, savvy Elaine. Through Elaine’s eyes we toggle between past, present, and numerous possible futures—and though you might think you know how it all ends, it will almost certainly surprise you. One thing’s for sure: After finishing this lyrical, emotional rollercoaster of a book, I will never again forget Elaine.
Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come—for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future.
On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends—countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic.
When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle.
As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change fate—and what she is willing to sacrifice along the way.