REVIEW: Tirzah and the Prince of Crows, Deborah Kay Davies

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Brought up by a staunchly religious family, Tirzah has always lived quite a sheltered life in the Welsh Valleys. As she reaches her teenage years, she begins to question her upbringing and her values, moving for the first time beyond the narrow confines of the world she knows. She begins a relationship with Osian, a local boy, but the guilt of their secret relationship weighs on them both heavily and they are soon forced to go their separate ways. Tirzah turns to the forest for comfort, where she finds another lost soul, a boy named BrĂ¢n. As they try and find their way in the world, things take an unexpected turn and Tirzah finds herself experiencing things she could never have imagined.

There is something truly marvellous about Deborah Kay Davies’ writing, although I don’t know what about it makes it so. Something rather abstract, delicate. But, unfortunately, the skill demonstrated in the prose does not the negate the failings in the plot. Tirzah and the Prince of Crows’ protagonist is torn between two extremes: life spent in a chastity belt, locked away from the world and shamed for anything that the older men in her life perceive to be sinful; or, a sexual awakening that feels a bloody lot like assault and harassment. You can call it naivety, or internalised shame regarding her own body, or whatever you so wish, but the scenes that were supposed to form that “awakening”? Oh, dear god, no. She is repeatedly touched and kissed without her consent, by the all three of her love interests (the ‘good’ guy, the ‘bad’ guy and the indifferent stranger from afar) and because she feels aroused/“a stab of lust” in relation to them, it is written-off simply as her not fully grasping the wants of her own body. But, what about the wants of her own mind? Although, in 2019, the current climate suggests that the two options that the protagonist is grasping with are the only two, we should all be well-aware by now that this is far from actuality and seeing this madonna-whore dichotomy play out throughout this narrative, really drove me up the wall.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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