Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5/5)

Genre: Historical Fiction

Available On: Amazon

In a literary landscape often dominated by male protagonists, especially in the realms of historical fiction, Nicola Griffith’s Hild is a breath of fresh air. Not only does the novel dive deep into the intricacies of 7th century England, but it also masterfully crafts a tale around a powerful and unforgettable female main character: Hild of Whitby.

From the very beginning, Hild is presented not just as a figure of royalty, but as a symbol of strength, wisdom, and resilience. Her position as the niece of King Edwin of Northumbria could have easily confined her to the typical roles women of her time often played – as mere pawns in political games or silent figures in the backdrop. However, Griffith ensures that Hild stands tall and formidable, not overshadowed by her male counterparts or the societal expectations of her time.

As a seer and trusted advisor, Hild’s influence extends far beyond her immediate family. Her insights and predictions not only shape the future of kingdoms, but they also challenge the conventions of her society. Through Hild, Griffith successfully shatters the stereotypical portrayal of women in historical settings as being relegated to the background. Instead, she offers readers a female character who not only understands her power but wields it with both grace and determination.

Another commendable aspect of Hild is the manner in which Griffith balances this display of power with vulnerability. As with any human, Hild has her moments of doubt, love, and despair. This humanization does not weaken her character; instead, it accentuates her power by showing that despite these very human emotions, she continues to shape the world around her.

Hild isn’t just a novel about 7th century England or the life of Saint Hilda (although it certainly tells a great tale about that!). It is a celebration of female strength, resilience, and power in a world that often sought to limit them. For readers searching for historical fiction with a powerful female main character (or, honestly, anyone who enjoys powerful MCs regardless of genre), Hild is a must-read. Through Hild’s journey, Griffith reminds us all of the enduring strength of women throughout history and their ability to shape the course of events, even when faced with insurmountable odds.

What Genre Is Hild By Nicola Griffith?

Hild is a historical fiction novel. It delves into the imagined early life of Hild of Whitby (later known as Saint Hilda) in 7th century England. The novel combines meticulous historical detail with a narrative that brings to life the people, politics, and societal dynamics of the time. While it is rooted in historical settings and events, like all historical fiction, it includes imaginative reconstruction to fill in the gaps where the historical record is sparse or unclear.

How Spicy Is The Novel?

Spice Rating: 🌶️

Hild does contain some intimate scenes and relationships. The protagonist, Hild, has relationships with both men and women in the novel, and there are descriptions of these romantic and sexual encounters. However, the details are not overly explicit and are woven into the broader context of the character’s experiences and the cultural backdrop of 7th century Britain. I wouldn’t count this as a spicy novel at all, yet it’s still an enjoyable romantic read in some respects.

Hild offers a more nuanced and realistic portrayal of human relationships that you often find in historical novels. Rather than focusing on gratuitous or overly explicit content, you’ll find some mature themes and scenes, but they are integral to the character development and the narrative as a whole.

What Romance Tropes Are In The Novel?

Hild is a rich and complex historical novel, and while it’s not primarily a romance novel, it does contain elements of romantic relationships that touch on certain tropes. Here are a few romance tropes or themes that can be discerned in Hild:

Forbidden Love

Hild has relationships with both men and women in a society where same-sex relationships, especially among women of her status, would not be openly accepted. This element adds tension and secrecy to her encounters.

Love and Duty

As a woman of importance in her society and close to the seat of power, Hild has duties and expectations placed upon her. Her personal desires and feelings sometimes conflict with these duties, a common trope in romance, especially historical romance.

Slow Burn

The development of some of Hild’s relationships can be considered a slow burn, where feelings and connections grow over time rather than being the result of instant attraction.

Love as a Source of Strength

Throughout the novel, love and intimacy are sources of strength and solace for Hild, helping her navigate the challenges and uncertainties of her world.

Complex Love Triangle

Without giving away too much, Hild’s relationships aren’t always straightforward. She has deep connections with multiple characters, and these connections evolve over time, creating layered and intricate relationships.

It’s worth noting that while these romantic elements are present, they’re woven into a broader tapestry of political intrigue, personal growth, and historical events. The romance isn’t the primary focus, but it adds depth and complexity to Hild’s character and her experiences.