After discovering Erin Phillips on Instagram and devouring her book A Crown of Chains, I was thrilled to receive a pre-release copy of her latest novel, A Bond of Briars, inspired by the book of Ruth, in exchange for an honest review.
Adapting Bible stories is HARD, especially when you want to remain faithful to the source material while infusing it with originality. Yet, Erin Philips breathed new life into the book of Ruth, taking it to great heights in this thrilling YA dark fantasy.
“My heart feels heavy as I stare at my arms, the red marks like briars piercing my skin.” ~ Erin Phillips
She is bonded to a spirit who demands her blood.
She serves a mother-in-law who resents her power.
She meets a man who challenges everything she’s ever believed.
After a fatal illness takes Caitrin’s husband, she finds herself obligated to care for her mother-in-law, Meara, at any cost…even if it means traveling to Croìthe, where magic is outlawed. Hounded by the suspicious townsfolk and burdened by Meara’s bitter grief, Caitrin struggles to keep all of her secrets hidden and make a new life in the foreign land.
However, when the charming and charitable Callen Lockhart, a wealthy lord who is at odds with the town, welcomes her without judging her past, Caitrin worries that his generosity will come at a price she is unwilling to pay.
As her bond grows stronger, Caitrin must prove her blood magic isn’t dangerous or suffer the consequences of the truth being discovered.
“Just trust me. He makes it sound so easy; he clearly doesn’t realize just how dangerous trust can be.” ~ Erin Phillips
A Bond of Briars took me on a journey I didn’t know I needed to take. While most of the story is filled with magical elements and darkness, as the light broke through the pages, I came to appreciate the way Erin Phillips crafted this narrative and was convicted for my quick judgment. At its core, A Bond of Briars challenges readers to consider who or what we cling to in life. Are we bound by our own desires, including the things we believe are harmless, or are we willing to surrender ourselves to the One who offers true freedom and love? Through themes of unconditional love, selfless sacrifice, and friendship, Erin Phillips skillfully places God at the heart of the story, offering inspiration to all who pick up this book. However, it’s worth noting that A Bond of Briars may not be suitable for everyone.
“You will have to choose what you want more. One choice gives you freedom, while the other will leave you in bondage.” ~ Erin Phillips
If you are not a fan of magic, spells, or spirits, you may find A Crown of Chains more to your liking. My thoughts on the spells in A Bond of Briars are mixed. I recognize their purpose but also understand why some might feel apprehensive about their presence. Nevertheless, beneath this book’s surface, a profound and resonant truth becomes apparent as the plot unfolds. Much like C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, Caitrin’s bond with a spirit was a fascinating exploration of how Satan influences our thoughts and decisions.
“A world without magic. Who would I be without my magic? Powerless. And yet, even now, after I’ve just performed such a powerful spell, I don’t feel strong. I feel fragile and ready to break at any moment.” ~ Erin Phillips
The book of Ruth has never looked so different, yet I loved the edge and raw emotions captured within the pages of A Bond of Briars. Erin Phillips is a talented writer dedicated to glorifying Jesus through her work. Her characters are relatable, and her stories are relevant. The Scripture quoted at the end of the book also tied everything together, creating a deeper understanding of this book’s message. I believe the Lord calls people to write stories that will reach individuals who may not encounter Him another way. So, even if A Bond of Briars isn’t your usual cup of tea, I want to encourage you not to dismiss it entirely. There might be a young girl searching for the meaning of unconditional love who finds it within the pages of this book. Dark YA is a tricky genre to tackle, especially as a Christian, but Erin Phillips continues to dominate the genre, shining a light that will reach great distances. I pray everyone who reads Caitrin’s story will resonate with her journey and ultimately find hope!
“Beloved, you are worth more than all the stars in the sky and all the blood in my veins. Every drop.” ~ Erin Phillips
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