REVIEW: Morgan Is My Name by Sophie Keetch

Sophie Keetch’s debut, Morgan Is My Name, tells the story of one of the great Grimdark heroines of myth, Morgan le Fay. Both lover and sister to Arthur, the Once and Future King, she has taken on the role of temptress, of vile betrayer, of an intelligent sorceress who refused to stay within the confines expected of her in the corpus of legends. This is the first novel in a planned trilogy, so much of the story in Morgan Is My Name is exposition, is building up to a darkness only hinted at here.

Cover of Morgan Is My NameMorgan Is My Name tells the eponymous Morgan’s story from childhood to when she hits her personal breaking point and turns into someone far closer to the Morgan we know from myth and legend. It focuses on her childhood, her marriage to Urien and the diverse relationships she builds, relies on and has to navigate as a woman of high social standing in a medieval society. A sense of powerlessness permeates the book, a immense and growing frustration with her place in her household and society at large. It is certainly not an easy life Morgan leads, though a privileged one.

And this is where the book unfortunately falls flat for the Grimdark reader. While I found it to be a perfectly fine read, enjoyable and interesting, the way Morgan was portrayed took away a lot of the complexity of her character from myth. By giving her this retelling, by giving her an origin story that established her as a woman wronged by men to justify who she later becomes, she doesn’t come across as a character with depth and nuance of her own. I wished for her to be fiercer earlier, to show glimpses of morally grey decision making from childhood on, to have a character arc consistent in itself.

In terms of genre, Morgan Is My Name reads far more like a literary, commercial feminist retelling than a genre novel. Its supernatural elements are sparse and relegated to background dressing. I was hoping for more Merlin, for more prophecy, perhaps even Avalon. The legends have such amazing dark content that this version pushed aside in order to focus on one woman – and her as a woman.

Now, given that this is the first in a trilogy, it may well be that the second and third books will expand on the elements only shown briefly in the first book. I am intrigued enough to pick up the next volume when it releases, but I wouldn’t recommend this for the Grimdark audience.

Read Morgan Is My Name by Sophie Keetch

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Fabienne Schwizer

Fabienne Schwizer

Fabienne can usually be found with her nose in a book or two. Most of her life revolves around words, be that reading, writing, or editing. You can find more of her ramblings over on www.libridraconis.com, where she also reviews YA books and more lighthearted Fantasy and Science Fiction, as @FLSchwizer on Twitter, and @libri_draconis on Instagram. If you're curious about what she is currently reading, check out www.goodreads.com/libridraconis.