Legacy is a captivating book both sour and sweet. The placement of women puts an ugly taste in readers’ mouths, forcing a need to step back and savor just how decent we live. Sweetness comes in the form of poisonous flowers and a well needed rebellion.
The opening line “My mother died before I was born,” followed by an overwhelming “She was fifteen when I was born, the first in a long line of unwelcome daughters,” already expresses the strict starved environment Shannon lives within. In the town village of Legacy this is the case with all child bearing women. Women are taught to be wives, birthed for nothing more than to have more children, preferably boys. It is a practice dulling sugar-filled eyes, destroying the spirit of the women who once were dreaming children playing in fields, demoted the night of marriage to be viewed as nothing more than a homemaker, only finding beauty in the flowers she is allowed to plant in the spring.
Shannon Wrightsdaughter finds herself on the verge of this inevitable situation holding her newborn sister and telling the others that their mother has died. Forced from home to learn the wifely arts she sought to avoid, she soon finds herself faced with the reality that she will be married of to a man who will never love her and will only beat her until he has destroyed every ounce of spirit she owns. Shannon decides to run off with her infant sister only to be found, near death, by a clan of warrior women known as the Ilari. The Ilari take them in as their own, renaming her Shannon Tresdaughter, in honor of her mother. In the Ilari camp she learns that the monsters the men of her village fight year after year are really clans of women fighting for freedom. Every year a peace treaty is offered and denied by the men who relish in the comfort of the power they have over women in their society. “It was not lack of courage or weak wills that made many of those women what they were. It was fear and ignorance of anything different.”
Valentine’s words are brash and to the point. She creates a tale through the eyes of a rebellious child that every woman, old and young, can relate to. It is action packed until the end, keeping the reader on edge, dreaming of it even after the book has ended and is laid to rest on a shelf or bedside table.