Set in Stone by Stela Brinzeanu | #bookreview | @legend_times_ @stela_brinzeanu

Set in Stone is the debut novel from Stela Brinzeanu and can we just take a minute to admire that beautiful cover? The physical copy shimmers and there are so many elements of the story reflected in the illustrations on the cover.

About the book

In medieval Moldova, two women from opposing backgrounds fall in love.

But this is a world where a woman’s role is defined by religion and class. To make a life together means defying their families, the law, and the Church. The closer they become, and the more they refuse the roles assigned to them, the more sacrifices they have to make. While Mira’s rebellion puts her life in the gravest danger, Elina must fight to change her legal status to ‘son’ so she can inherit her father’s land and change their destiny.

Set in Stone delves into the past to uncover a story which is just as relevant today: the desire to forge your own path while constantly having to resist a patriarchal fear of women’s strength – and how ultimately love can help you choose your own truth.

My Thoughts

Set in Stone is an entrancing story exploring customs and rituals, healing, beliefs and ancient wisdom. In this mediaeval Moldovan society, women do not have much agency and many are feared. It’s a reimagining of an Eastern European legend and certainly has that mystical, folklore feel about it.

Elina is of noble birth and an only daughter, but as a daughter she cannot inherit her father’s estate unless she can be legally recognised as a son. Mira is the potter’s daughter and a potter herself until an accident makes that almost impossible. Without skills, how will she survive? Rozalia is the wise woman, the one who knows how to use plants and herbs to heal. As you can imagine, although her wisdom and knowledge is much in demand, she has to tread a fine line so as not to be accused of witchcraft. These three women were such interesting characters to read about. They all faced significant challenges and danger but showed their strength and courage when it mattered.

Stela Brinzeanu paints a vivid picture of this historical period. It’s a time of fear and suspicion, of mistrust of anything that could be construed as witchcraft. It was certainly a dangerous time to be a woman. I enjoyed reading about the three women’s resourcefulness and resilience in standing up to a patriarchal society. There’s a fascinating exploration about gender roles in that society which really could be equally relevant today. I was caught up in this magical story and transported to mediaeval Europe. Set in Stone is is beautifully written, full of colour and imagery and a real feast for the senses.

Thanks to the publishers for sending me a copy of the book for review.
Set in Stone is published by Legend Times and available now from all good booksellers.

About the Author

Growing up in Soviet Moldova – a land where propaganda dominated the airwaves – Stela escaped into the world of literature from an early age. Books were the most exciting form of entertainment in her life and they saw her through the cold, candlelit nights when the country’s authorities introduced mandatory power cuts.

Stela moved to London at the age of 18. With a BA in Media Studies from the University of Westminster, she embarked on a brief journalistic career, training with the BBC and running a community magazine, before she turned her attention to literature. Her fiction explores issues of identity, gender roles, the unity and inter-connectedness of nature, and the conflict of religion – organised religion – vs spirituality.


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