I dedicated my short lunchtimes reading this last year, as I was (and am) right in the middle of writing three other books, so it's taken a little time to get this out.
Yes I'm envious, because The Widow's Thorn is basically a masterclass of story execution and editing that I perhaps don't have the patience or scope (or limited word count...ooops) that might help me achieve similar. This is not negatively noted, I loved it. No chaff, no flowery or overdone grammar, the writing is well-commanded but not pretentious. ENVY. It made me think about where and how I can tailor my tales so the clothes fit comfortably, and you don't notice how well until you stop moving. It inspired me to go and write more, and look over my work, and generally aim to being a better publisher. Though I'll still write bricks, I'll write better bricks.
The Widow's Thorn picks up a year after The Witch of Glenaster, and while both are stories of Esther's journey into realms unknown, part one was based around a great journey, where part two is based around a great escape. Now feared and under Empire arrest, as it were, people from Esther's past and present clash with her escapades through the book, each one of them bringing dangers to her door,whether they mean it or not. Her trust is lent, stretched and betrayed, and by God, Mr Mills, were my hairs standing on end at that cliffhanger!
It's a simple tale, of a girl in peril and searching for her family, blood or otherwise, who must learn who to follow, but who must also learn to be followed, and it's so well constructed that, though it leaves questions to be answered, it's fulfilling and satisfying (and thrilling-eep!) at its endpoint. What would likely pass as infodump in other books suits this arena, because it resembles the epic tales of old (serious infodump), focussed and understanding what it is and what it wants to say.
Esther is growing up, and soon it will be much more than just her and her brother on her mind I imagine that she has to worry about, and I'm intrigued to see where her story's leading. Esther has a bigger future than she (or anyone) expects it seems, and I'm excited to read about it.