Book Review: THE HARM TREE by Rose Edwards

The Harm Tree
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 5 stars
Series: yes - first book in series


the harm tree

The resistance is rising and dark forces stir to take back what was once theirs. Belief in the ancient gods runs strong—the sacrificial Harm Tree still stands.

You’re too young to remember why we needed heroes. You should be glad…

Nine years ago, two princes waged a bloody civil war for the right to rule Arngard. The younger prince took the throne and outlawed the ancient beliefs, but some wounds don’t heal. New religion replaced the barbaric traditions and finally, there’s peace.

Torny and Ebba are friends. Sent away by their families, they work together and watch out for each other. Too young to remember the war that tore apart the kingdom, Torny dreams of the glorious warriors of old, while Ebba misses her family, despite the darkness she left behind.

But when a man is murdered on the street and Torny finds herself in possession of a dangerous message, the two friends must tread separate paths. These will lead them through fear, through grief, to the source of their own power and to the gates of death itself.

As Torny and Ebba are used as tools for the opposing factions of the war, a deep power is ignited in them both. Can they uncover their own strength to finally heal the wounds of a nation?

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


This is an incredible debut, an engaging story set in an incredible world.

The world is Norse inspired, but not your Loki-and-Thor kind. Instead, it’s an early Middle Ages/Dark Ages world, and feels like there’s been a lot of research done. It’s not a world of stone buildings and elegant palaces, but wood and thatch barns where beds are straw pallets – in short, a lot more realistic than many fantasies.

I loved the role of religion in this book. There are two different religions at war – the old, traditional faith (drawn from pagan religions in the dark ages in the Norse world) and a new religion from the south (clearly a Christianity analogue). Both girls follow a different religion, to varying extents, which provides a window into both sides of the faiths.

Neither is shown to be better than the other. At first this confused me because I am used to there being a clear cut “this is the better religion in regards to this plot”, but once I got out of that thinking, I really liked how it was so balanced in showing the flaws. The traditional faith is brutal in its sacrifices, but the new religion is brutal in the way it “inspires” others to force conversions. It was so balanced, full of nuance.

Faith influences and drives a lot of the book – from the “miracles” the Prester wants from Edda to the spirits and gods complicating Torny’s mission. The two religions represent the two sides of the war that’s resurfacing, so their clash echoes that of the factions fighting for different futures.

Edda’s voice is incredible. Both girls are very separate in how they narrate (and, to a lesser extent, the other characters who get one or two chapters, but they didn’t get enough time speaking for me to get a feel for them). However, it was Edda who stood out. The narration is done with all the missing letters (“an” for “and”) and word substitutions (“of” instead of “have”) that make up her dialect. It made her stand out, and gave a different feel to her chapters as opposed to Torny’s.

Read my reviews of other books by Rose Edwards:

The Harm Tree (this series):


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