Nola is born into poverty in Sarsenay, a prosperous northern land where the exploits of long-dead heroes still resonate. She spends her girlhood as a brothel seer, imagining a life at the castle, where she would prophesy for king and court. This seems impossible until she meets a handsome and enigmatic man — a castle seer who promises to help her realize her dream. Instead, he draws her into a web of murder and treachery, of obsessive desires and ancient forbidden rites that will threaten not just her, but also the land and people she loves.
To arrive at the end of Caitlin Sweet’s The Pattern Scars has the feel of awakening from a dream — one of doing terrible things. It is a novel of intense contradiction: a lush, delicately imagined nightmare; a horror novel about intimacy…It should have been a relief to awaken from The Pattern Scars, after all its horrors. Yet the richness of the world, the complexity of the main character, and the intensity of her tragedy evoke memories that linger for a long time. It is the rare reader who could read this book and be unaffected — or unscathed.