Briggs, Patricia: The Hob (2001)

We humans are a fearful lot. If anything or anyone differs from the accepted norm, most of us will find some way to avoid that thing or person. Sometimes we’ll use the opportunity to bully and taunt the person exhibiting “strangeness”. The Hob’s Bargain illustrates this ability to pretend that we know how the world should be, even if that means hurting someone we love.

Aren’s (our protagonist) family is not excepted from this. They have an hereditary clairvoyant ability that sometimes expresses itself in a more magical one. That makes them fodder for the blood magicians – who feed on death. Aren’s brother was wanted as a magician by those in power, but he did not want to consequences of such a choice. Rather than have his death be used by the blood magicians, he chose to suicide.

You can imagine this has affected Aren. It seems she is beginning to experience visions, making her worry about her new husband. When the cottage is broken into, she manages to hide in the food cellar, but Aren knows something is terribly wrong.

While hiding in the cellar, Aren suddenly feels a change in the way magic feels. Something has broken, but she has no idea what – being too busy surviving, and all. From that point on Aren’s visions are clearer and the first one concerns the death of her father and husband. Turns out her whole family is gone. Now Aren has to deal with her grief, her out-of-control magic and the changes in the land and her neighbors.

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