One look is all he needs to see your triumphs, your tragedies, and your deepest secrets. Then, whatever Simon Says comes to pass.
As the world's last Druid, Simon carries the combined powers of all his People. In exchange for this gift, he has made a Promise to fulfill their Sacred Trust to act as a Guardian for the good in humankind.
Elusive and discrete, he lives through the centuries and uses his mystical powers to change people's lives for the better simply by telling a story. His gift allows him to see all the tiny threads and knots that make up the fabric of their lives, and, he can tie a knot here or move a thread there, and a life changes forever.
He longs for a love of his own but continually resists it. Simon has learned that letting anyone become close to him only ends in loss and pain. Unable to die and being bound by his Promise forces him into a constant battle against his personal demons as he struggles to keep moving forward. A day finally comes when, in great despair, he makes a terrible mistake that breaks the Trust and nearly destroys him.
While working towards redemption, he realizes someone has finally discovered his secret and is tracking him. He awaits this Searcher with the hope he’ll finally be released from his Promise so he can at long last die and return to his People. But as he waits, he finds the love he has long been denied and now must choose between his desire for love and his desire for an ending.
A genre-blending bittersweet, yet hopeful, tale of a love that spans centuries, of magical second chances that change lives, and of the belief that faith is always rewarded.
Plot/Idea: Stirling offers readers a creative, twisty plot to keep them engaged. The premise—a powerful Druid capable of transforming others' lives while struggling to procure his own happiness—is thought-provoking and unusual; readers will root for Simon's happy ending.
Prose: The complex plot is delivered through a detailed, concise narrative that will immediately grab readers' attention—and entertain them until the end. Stirling is clearly a talented storyteller.
Originality: Simon Says features a striking main character whose conflict is immersive and memorable. Stirling achieves the perfect balance between character-driven scenes and compelling action.
Character/Execution: Stirling excels at characterization, particularly for Simon, whose heartache is glaring despite all the good he extends in the world.
Date Submitted: July 09, 2023
Simon’s quest is exceptional, though it comes at great cost to himself: he meets three different Katherines, all of whom steal his heart, but he’s been cautioned to avoid intimacy with others. His powers are too great, and his ancestors warned him he could be destroyed if they were exposed. His selflessness is admirable (instead of pursuing the first two Katherines he falls in love with, he spins them stories that see them happily matched with others), but he’s not emotionless. When his faithful manservant Marcus succumbs to the plague in 1665, Simon’s anger and despair lead to actions he later regrets. However, true to his advice to those fortunate recipients of his tales, “faith is always rewarded,” and Simon never gives up hope of his own happy ending.
Stirling’s worldbuilding is first rate, and she imbues her characters with heart and honor, allowing readers the opportunity to build deep emotional bonds with the cast. When Simon’s third Katherine (a descendant of the other two Katherines via her paternal line) hears snippets of his history, she travels to London to research. There, she discovers Marcus’s journal in an antiques store, and her connection to Simon springs to life, yielding an unexpected yet satisfying finale. Readers will fall for this warm story of kindness, self-sacrifice, and second chances.
Takeaway: A multi-layered story of magic, selflessness, and second chances.
Comparable Titles: Jon R. Osborne’s A Reluctant Druid, Paula Brackston’s The Silver Witch.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A