The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon Book Review

The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon is a historical fantasy novel heavily influenced by the Norse sagas. This is the first book in the Saylok series.

The island of Saylok has been cursed to have no more girl children. Turned away by the father of her unborn child, Desdemona, utters a blood curse as she is dying. If men will not treat women as equals she robs them of the ability to have any girls committing the nation to extinction, and their only salvation will be her son, Bayr.

Years later orphaned Bayr is now a Temple Boy, his strength and protectiveness earn him the role of protector of Princess Alba, the first girl to be born in over a decade. The bond between Bayr and Alba is instant and they are connected for life even as they grow up and begin to lead their own lives, Bayr as a Chieftain and Alba as a princess.

As the years go by without any further girls being born the tribes of Saylok are feeling the pressure as the female population ages and it becomes apparent just how crucial women are. The power struggle also continues and is in some ways intensified as there is more questioning of those in power.

At the centre of this, even though they don’t realise it is Bayr and Alba, who both undermine the king and threaten his ill-gotten power. To restore peace they need to break the curse, but that could bring its own tragedy.

If you enjoy fantasy novels that are influenced by historical periods and mythology you will enjoy this book. The world-building is wonderfully done and is completely detailed and immersive.





Excerpt from The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon

“We are abused. We are used. We are bartered and abandoned. But rarely are we loved. So be it. From this day forward, there will be no daughters in Saylok for any of you to love.”

The ground rumbled as though pained by Desdemona’s knife, and for a moment, Dagmar feared the earth would open and swallow them. But the tremors ceased almost as suddenly as they’d begun.

“I love you, Desdemona,” Dagmar choked, wiping his tears in her hair. “I have always loved you. Do not speak this way.”

“You left me, brother. And now I will leave you,” she breathed, but the words caught and rattled in her chest, and the knife fell from her hand, her runes completed, her life finished.

The babe cried again, a short, sad protest, and then he fell silent, his bow-shaped mouth rooting for his mother’s breast. But his mother was gone. Dagmar felt the life lift from his sister and her limbs loosen. Her head fell back, exposing her throat, young, lovely, and streaked with crimson from her own hands.

Dagmar shook her, demanding she wake as her babe latched onto a still-warm breast, taking what was left of her into himself. Dagmar was repulsed, horrified even, and he wept as the child drank, his little cheeks hollowing out, his tiny hands fisting the white flesh as he suckled his dead mother.