Back in the day, a left-handed misfit is something no mother wants in a child least of all a father. Perhaps left-handedness is more accepted these days. A lot of creative people are left-handed, maybe because they are in their `right’ mind. A great many right-handers started off to be left-handed but were forced into using their right hands since being left-hand was different and considered the mark of the devil. This past mindset is central to the understanding of the background and setting for Cailin by Rosalind Scarlett.
Born in 18th Century Ireland, the left-handed and misfit main character, Aislinn, starts life on the wrong foot. Her father doesn’t like her and things get worse from there. Even when she falls in love with Donovan, their life together is doomed. A vampire takes her away and her journey as an immortal begins. More than a period piece about vampires and the lust for immortality in common with its genre, Scarlett has crafted a beautifully descriptive tale that, although it will be lumped into the category of vampire novels, it is certainly not run of the mill. It paves new ground in a genre that is often ripe with cliché, perhaps resurrecting the category. Her delightful use of authentic Gaelic language lends an unusual flavor to the tale, also setting it apart from the normal fare of gratuitous blood-sucking. And she gives a pretty authentic feeling for the role of women in the period.
Not usually a huge fan of the genre, I have shied away from the popular tripe with which the genre is rife. Cailin is an exception, clearly not to be included in any sweeping condemnation of `those’ types of books. The plot is well conceived though at times challenged as it is immersed in a sea of descriptive language. That is uncommon and refreshing in a genre that is generally more about action than substance. Cailin has both along with the necessary blood and sex. It’s easy to recommend because it is atypical and well worth the investment of a day or two to read.