Sophie Keetch’s Morgan is My Name is a beautifully crafted, atmospheric retelling of a much maligned character: Morgan le Fay. In traditional Arthurian tales, Morgan is a villain, a manipulative and unreliable witch, set in opposition to the steadfast, chivalrous heroism of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. But, in the vein of many maligned female characters whose stories are being reclaimed, Keetch tells this story from Morgan’s point of view. In this version, Uther Pendragon (aka King Arthur) is a violent bully who takes Morgan’s family, erasing her father and putting himself at the head of their household and lands.
As she grows up, Morgan defies Uther, ignoring the warnings and caution of her mother and older sisters. From the very first moment Uther upends her life when she is a child, Morgan finds ways to fight back, become educated, go where she pleases, and wrest herself from the controlling world she must live within under Uther’s court. She is filled with anger and rebels against the culture that tells her to sit quietly sewing, accept the husband her new father has chosen for her, and be pushed about their lands like a chess piece in someone else’s game.
She is a compelling character and, through all the hardship and challenges she faces, readers are on her side, wanting her to succeed in defiance of the people who seek to take so much from her.
Keetch does a wonderful job of building the rain-washed ancient British setting, and of drawing the reader fully into the world and culture of the time. The knights are chivalrous, the falcons keen and the castles draughty. It reads like historical fiction, but with just a touch of magic at unexpected moments, enough to push it very slightly into the realm of myth and legend.
This is a beautifully written character-driven story that leaves you wanting more. Fortunately, as it’s the first of a trilogy, there will be more to come. Whether you’re a lover of Arthurian mythology, stories set in ancient times or carefully crafted retellings of well-known characters, this book will captivate and delight.
Morgan is My Name
Publisher: Oneworld (Bloomsbury)
Publication date: 5 September 2023