Tuesday, July 10, 2012

{Review} The Taint: Sorrow's Child by Georgina Anne Taylor

Title: The Taint: Sorrow's Child
Author: Georgina Ann Taylor
May 18, 2012


Sorrow's Child, the first novel in "The Taint" series, is a dark fairytale steeped in myth and magic. In a richly gothic setting, ‘Sorrow’s Child’ is a coming of age story and a tale of betrayal and bloody revenge.

On the Isle of Muin, one of the thirteen scattered Meda Isles, Lilith, a young orphan and an indentured servant, is found guilty of witchcraft and is condemned to hang…

Okay, looking at the--ahem--sparse synopsis, you may be wondering why you should read this book. Generally speaking, I really hate including summaries in my reviews, but I think it's probably necessary in this case. 

Sorrow's Child is about an orphan named Lilith discovering that she possesses magic--the Taint--and how she has saved from hanging (since she fairly obviously survives or we'd have no book), and how she ends up the apprentice of a mysterious sorcerer. Lilith learns about her Gift, her history and the history of Witches in this very Gothic fantasy, but it's Gothic in the very best way: dark and full of uncertainty.

Although it's tagged as a Young Adult, Sorrow's Child is not what I would call a YA novel. Or perhaps it's only YA in the sense that the main character is only 14. Everything else in this book is just plain dark fantasy and I feel that giving it the YA tag may make a lot of people who would love this dark tale overlook it.

"Beware the Witch. Beware her Taint."

When I started The Taint: Sorrow's Child I wasn't sure quite what to think. The dark, twisted imagery that it begins with gave me the idea of the distinctly Gothic flavor of the book, but I wasn't sure if it was going to be my preferred flavor of dark. It was. Taylor constructs a world of magic that is, I feel, very unique. In fantasy, you tend to get extremes in the treatment of magic--it's either very minimal or it's exceptionally powerful. I think Taylor walks a strange middle road with the magic she presents in "Sorrow's Child," powerful, treated as commonplace by some and a taint by others, but also exists in "traditional" ideas--in spells and potions and herb-lore. It was very interesting because as a reader, you were never quite sure what to expect from it, where its limits lie. It kept you guessing as to what would be done next, how the power could be used and what, if any, ramifications there are. And centered in this world of uncertainty is Lilith.

Lilith is a character I could sink my teeth into--naive, confused, overwhelmed and in awe, yet intuitive, growing cautious, then proud. For me, character is paramount in a book and Lilith is a character I want more of. I want to know where she's going to go, what's going to happen to her, how she's going to learn to use her power. I wanted to know of her past, I want to be there with her in the future. She's a strong, interesting character, living in a brutal world where death and violence are common and she has a generally pragmatic approach to life. I really enjoyed learning about her, even if I was occasionally frustrated by her missing an apparently obvious connection.

There are a couple of places in building the world that I was a little confused on, but nothing serious enough to detract from the story as a whole and nothing I'm sure won't be explained in future books. There's also a couple places where the pace drags a bit, but overall, she does a good job of balancing. And the end--the end nothing but masterful. I reached the end and went "wait a minute... no, there's more. There's supposed to be more!" It's not exactly a cliffhanger, more an open ending. And it's one that has me on the edge of my seat, waiting for the next installment. A great example of Gothic fantasy.

Oh, one small note--Georgina is Australian and, as such, there are Australian writing conventions, most notably the use of single quotes. Not a big deal, and you quickly read them as normal, I just wanted to warn you so no one comes back complaining about bad mechanics.

---Kelly Coffee

~A Toast to a Story Better than the One Before~

Cover art from Georgina Ann Taylor's website.


  1. Sounds like a fun read. It's unfortunate the society insists on categorizing books as MG, YA, Adult, etc. These genre distinctions keep lots of people from loving books.

  2. I agree. I honestly didn't realize that it *was* a YA book until I was glancing through other reviews (I like to compare my experience with a book to others). Honestly, if you like traditional fairy tales, I think you'll enjoy this. It's very dark, but very interesting.



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