She is bonded to a spirit who demands her blood.
She serves a mother-in-law who resents her power.
She meets a man who challenges everything she’s ever believed.
After a fatal illness takes Caitrin’s husband, she finds herself obligated to care for her mother-in-law, Meara, at any cost … even if it means traveling to Croìthe, where magic is outlawed. Hounded by the suspicious townsfolk and burdened by Meara’s bitter grief, Caitrin struggles to keep all of her secrets hidden and make a new life in the foreign land.
However, when the charming and charitable Callen Lockhart, a wealthy lord who is at odds with the town, welcomes her without judging her past, Caitrin worries that his generosity will come at a price she is unwilling to pay.
As her bond grows stronger, Caitrin must prove her blood magic isn’t dangerous or suffer the consequences of the truth being discovered.
Red bands around Caitrin’s wrists prove her bond with a spirit. So the last place she would want to go is Croìthe, the city where magic is punishable by death. In Erin Phillips’s A Bond of Briars, Caitrin vows to her dying husband that she will care for his mother, setting up this dark fantasy retelling of a famous biblical story. Caitrin’s magic helps her survive, but her only hope of helping her mother-in-law regain her land is to marry a man who can reclaim that property. If only her new land didn’t also outlaw marriages between its people and a woman who is magically bonded. A Bond of Briars shows a beautiful love story along with the dangers of allegiance to idols that make us feel powerful and worthy. Phillips blends the biblical Ruth narrative with prophecy and hopes of redemption from spiritual warfare that binds the soul.
Best for: Young adults and adults, fans of biblical retellings, fans of dark fantasy.
Discern: Dark magic, blood magic, some violence, talk of a character’s history as a prostitute.