The Bitterbynde Trilogy: Reviews

‘Not since Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring fell into my hands have I been so impressed by a beautifully spun fantasy. This is indeed a find! The writing is very close to poetry. Many fantasies are compared to Tolkien these days but few really have the excellent writing and good characterisation that this work offers. This is far above the usual offering in the fantasy field and the reader is left longing for the adventures to continue. ’

Reviews from Andre Norton, Grand Master of Science Fiction.

‘Cecilia Dart-Thornton exhibits strong and authentic evidence of ­having visited some of the more exotic corners of Faerie . . . Crucially for readers, she proves she’s able to bring the unicorn back alive, netted in golden prose . . . The opener of Dart-Thornton’s series proves a sweet surprise.’

The Washington Post

‘For fans of mainstream fantasy, this is likely to be one of the high marks of the year.’

The Science Fiction Chronicle

‘The most distinctive element in The Ill-Made Mute is its lush prose, where grand Irish blarney, Boschian surrealism (with strong elements of Brian Froud) and tropical exoticism all play a part.’


‘Through the lyrical use of Scottish myths and legends, Dart-Thornton weaves the reader a world full of magic and wonder, creating a magnificent, visual landscape and culture that pro­vides sheer enchantment for the reader. Hail this, the newest wave in the Aussie Invasion; the first hardcover by a new author ever published by the current editor-in-chief of Warner Aspect. Yes, it’s that good.’

Mysterious Galaxies

‘Dart-Thornton’s first novel depicts a world that borrows from Celtic mythology but adds a few unique and refreshing twists. Featuring a courageous and unusual heroine, this series opener belongs in most fantasy collections.’

The Library Journal

‘A dazzling debut from a new fantasy star-in-the-making.’

Jennifer Roberson, author of The Sword-Dancer Saga

‘A rich, sumptuous feast of a book: brilliantly conceived and immaculately executed by a breathtaking new talent. It has a protagonist who is a real and complex person, terrifically realised and very human. A sweeping epic fantasy that isn’t only about kings and crowns, but about real people leading real lives.’

Rosemary Edghill, author of ‘Cup of Morning Shadows’

‘I think this author takes fantasy to new heights, managing to keep away from the stereotypical formulas that have plagued the genre for years. A great introduction to those who have not read fantasy and a delight for those who have.’

Manly Daily

‘A rich tapestry woven out of the bright threads of myth and romance, imbued with the magic of Alice in Wonderland, Middle Earth, and a thousand ancient fairy tales. Dart-Thornton’s Erith is a finely detailed world of complexity, depth, and unexpected dangers, but Imrhien is a heroine made to match its challenges.’

Susan Krinard, author of ‘Once a Wolf’

‘. . . this is an ambitious novel, distinct both for its style of writing, inventiveness and the caloric folkloric framing for its narrative, which combined to set it well apart from most of its fantasy contemporaries . . . Nor is this simply a rehash of some older fairytale or yarn . . . Little question this is the best fantasy debut by a new author that I’ve read thus far this year.’

The Revolution Science Fiction Review

‘The stylish fantasy [The Ill-Made Mute] is packed with sumptu­ous imagery, colour, and geographies, yet keeps up a racing pace, shot through with fierce action and startling events. Every astonishment, meanwhile, stays believable. Dart-Thornton’s winged horses and rigged air-ships really do fly; her people remain as real as any you might wish (or fear) to meet. I have to say this glorious book gives me back my faith in fantasy fic­tion . . . a stunning representative of [its] field . . . to [Cecilia Dart-Thornton] I extend the plea: More! More!’

Tanith Lee, Realms of Fantasy

‘Rich in romance and driven by a compelling drama mystery, this is fantasy at its best.’

‘In a word: enchanting.’

Herald Sun (reviews)

This is not a quick fantasy fix, it’s a rich and detailed journey of discovery . . . I’m immensely impressed by the author’s ability to weave her obviously extensive knowledge of mythic lore into the narrative . . . a great read.’

Good Reading

‘Often second books in fantasy trilogies just trudge along. In this case, the author has peppered the plot with folklore and tall tales that lend plenty of interest.’

Publishers Weekly on “The Lady of the Sorrows”

‘These are extremely impressive books. The complexities of the story, the richness of detail, the moral clarity, the use of myth, the verse sections—everything is first-class. And the ending of the saga is beautiful and heart-wrenching’

Roland Ottewell

‘This triumphant conclusion to the Bitterbynde trilogy [The Battle of Evernight] will bewitch and captivate anyone who enjoyed its pre­decessors. The author again employs a thick, rich golden prose and peppers her lavish tale with a wondrous array of beasts and monsters spawned from obscure English mythologies.’

The Sunday Tasmanian (Reviews)

‘Hobbit-fanciers will find much to delight them in The Ill-Made Mute.’

The Times (UK)

‘[The Ill-Made Mute] is a generously conceived, gorgeously writ­ten novel, recalling to mind the wonder we encountered upon reading such books as Tolkien’s or Mervyn Peake’s, boasting a depth and acuity of texture seldom encountered . . . The pace of the novel, too, is extraordinary, with reversals, surprises, new quests and new estimations of central ­characters tumbling over one another like madcap acrobats on virtually every page . . . The Celtic, twilight, utterly other world here is so rich and strange it has to go on. And it might well go on to become—the potential is manifest—one of the great fantasies.’

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

‘Dart-Thornton has considerable talent.’

Weekend Australian (reviews)

‘. . . a narrative tapestry that is richly imagined and teeming with enchanted beings, a Goblin Market meets Lord of the Rings.’

The Sunday Age (reviews)

‘The Ill-Made Mute is the best Australian fantasy novel I’ve read . . . at last, a book to get excited about.’

The Mercury (reviews)

‘With deep roots in folklore and myth, tirelessly inventive, fascinating, affecting, and profoundly satisfying—and Dart-Thornton has plenty in reserve for sequels. A stunning, dazzling debut.’


This is an enjoyable entree to The Bitterbynde. Like Tolkien and many of the best fantasy writers, Dart-Thornton has cre­ated a wonderful fantasy world that is a delight to wander through.’

Herald Sun

‘The Ill-Made Mute, Cecilia Dart-Thornton’s wonderful first novel, is a treasure, drawn from obscure folklore and the more secret places of the human heart. An inventive, ele­gantly written saga that invites comparison with the best fantasy novels of the 20th century, it may well prove to be one of the classics of the 21st.’

Elizabeth Hand, author of ‘Walking the Moon’

‘This first book of The Bitterbynde is impressive and beautifully written, with Cecilia Dart-Thornton showing an intimate knowl­edge of all things avian, equine and botanic. Anyone with a knowledge of our world’s myths, legends and superstitions will also be suitably delighted. I wish all fantasy novels could be this good.’

DB Magazine

‘This is so complex I found I couldn’t read generic fantasy for a week. I can’t wait for the rest of the tale.’

‘Fans of the fantasy genre often complain that too many novels follow the same old elf, dwarf, troll formula of good vs evil. At, we agree with this view after looking at countless Tolkien, Jordan and Brooks clone novels. A refreshing break from this trend is The Ill-Made Mute. Despite this being Ms. Thornton’s first novel, she brings a fresh perspective to the fantasy novel and presents us with an intriguing world that is constantly full of surprises . . . Ms. Thornton clearly shows she has the ability to become a major force in the fantasy arena . . . Look out Mr. Jordan and Mr. Brooks! Ms. Thornton is here to stay!’

‘[The Ill-Made Mute] was a complete surprise . . . Cecilia Dart-Thornton is amazingly well-versed in the ways of storytelling. Not since Tolkien and Tad Williams has a book been released with such depth of character. With brilliant syntax and profi­cient use of linguistics that Tolkien would be proud of, the tapestry of this brave new world is intricately woven. This book cleverly disguises world-building as a mosaic of leg­ends and tales . . . definitely for the serious fantasy-lover who craves for complex and complete worlds.’

‘I have little doubt that Dart-Thornton will spin . . . this . . . into an even more fantastic saga in her finale. I can’t wait.

Bendigo Advertiser

‘The Lady of the Sorrows comes to a magnificently paradoxi­cal conclusion.’


‘Ms. Dart-Thornton has done it again. It’s hard for even a sea­soned writer to produce a satisfying sequel to a successful novel, but Ms. Dart-Thornton makes it look easy! Richly descriptive . . . the plot unfolds in a most satisfying manner, engaging the reader along the way with many unexpected twists and turns. I can’t wait for the next installment.’ on “The Lady of the Sorrows”

‘As a series, [the Bitterbynde trilogy] manages to surprise the reader regularly with unexpected twists and revela­tions. The Battle of Evernight is no exception; indeed the best has been saved until last.’

Australian Bookseller & Publisher

‘The Ill-Made Mute, The Lady of the Sorrows and The Battle of Evernight are marvels of descriptive prose . . . a diamond sparkling in the coalmines of descriptively impoverished fiction.’

The Courier Mail (reviews)