The Pattern Scars

ISBN: 9781926851433
eISBN: 9781927469019

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  • 2012 CBC Bookie Award for Speculative Fiction, (The Pattern Scars)

Nola is born into poverty in Sarsenay City. When her mother realizes that Nola has the gift of Othersight and can foretell the future, she sells her to a brothel seer, who teaches the girl to harness her gift. As she grows up, she embraces her new life, and even finds a small circle of friends. All too soon, her world is again turned upside down when one of them is murdered. When a handsome, young Otherseer from the castle promises to teach her, she eagerly embraces the prospects of luxury beyond what she can imagine and safety from a killer who stalks girls by night. Little does she know that he will soon draw her into a web of murder, treachery, and obsessive desire that will threaten the people and land she holds dear, and that she will soon learn the harshest of lessons: that being able to predict the future has nothing to do with being able to prevent it.

Reviews of The Pattern Scars:

Caitlin Sweet's shimmering prose, already apparent in her debut novel A Telling of Stars, reaches new heights in The Pattern Scars, which is so replete with luminous images and an evocative atmosphere that even now, a week later, these sensations still haunt my memory as if they had been real, a country I visited and would return to again.

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.
The Pattern Scars is an exquisitely unique fantasy novel, its horror existing entirely in the narrow space between two people.
This is a truly dark fantasy. But it’s a darkness of spirit and psyche—there are no vampires here. Nola is born into the lowest of low castes, and grows up as the seer in a brothel. Her gifts bring her to the attention of a very powerful and dangerous man, which sets her on a course of obsession, murder and treachery. Inventive, well-written and unique, The Pattern Scars examines how even the best of emotions can be twisted into something strangled and perilous. Not for the faint of heart.
Harrowing, but you won't be able to put it down . . . . The Pattern Scars . . . has a lot to say about how relationships can become traps, and how monsters can be attractive and compelling.
[Sweet writes] a world with so much possibility and so much beauty, woven with an adept style that really does convince [me] that Caitlin Sweet is a formidable new talent.
—SF Site
A fine, intensely sensual novel full of keenly observed perceptions and shifting emotions.
The Edmonton Journal
[The Pattern Scars] is grim and bloody and soft and speckled with beauty. It shows us the high fantasy hero story through pained, prematurely old eyes, and twists good intentions, noble action, love and hate and talent and choice with a calm and simple authority that is absolute.
The Pattern Scars is a courageous piece of storytelling that does not flinch from the fact that Nola can never leave her experience behind, and that although she manages to reclaim part of herself, it is never possible for her to be truly whole again.
Claire Christie humanizes Nola despite the dark deeds she’s involved in. Christie accentuates the contrast between Nola’s vulnerability and softness (shown through her inner life and writings) and the evil that swirls around her. The overall effect is chilling.
[A] horrifically mesmerizing tale that is haunting and heart-breaking, and in the end even hopeful . . . . If you are of a tender heart, as am I, it is a novel that will make you weep, and one you will return to time and again.
Sweet strikes a perfect balance with the prose, just enough lyricism and vibrant sensory detail to set the chilling tone, but not enough fancy wordwork to take the reader out of the story . . . . A good book for readers who like a dark (as in really dark) character-driven fantasy with more than a dash of horror thrown in.
The Pattern Scars . . . follow[s] Nola's story over a large span of time and gets darker and darker all the way to the end. I got a little worried after the first big shift in the story, but by the end I even loved the parts I was originally unsure of . . . . If you love a good fantasy story, you should check out The Pattern Scars. It's a dark and different tale that I really enjoyed.
Book Den
Catelyn Sweet [has] done something pretty amazing here . . .
The Pattern Scars sweeps the reader up . . . . This is not light reading by a long shot but it’s worth every minute of it if you’re into dark fantasy. At the end, all I could say was 'Wow!'
—Popcorn Reads
This is a book all about the reasons people do things. Sure, the plot has politics and evil wizards and creepy-nifty magic, but none of that compares to Nola and her relationship with her new teacher. It’s an abusive relationship, absolutely, and watching Nola claw her way out of it is the great (though painful) joy of the book.

The Pattern Scars is an exquisitely unique fantasy novel, its horror existing entirely in the narrow space between two people.

—The Hopeful Librarian

Other Reviews

goodreads 3.89/5 stars more...

Author Info

Caitlin Sweet portrait

Caitlin Sweet’s first fantasy novel, A Telling of Stars, was published by Penguin Canada in 2003. Her second, The Silences of Home, was published in 2005. Her one and only short story, “To Play the Game of Men,” was included in Daw’s Ages of Wonder anthology in 2009. Her novel The Pattern Scars, came out from CZP in 2011, and was nominated for Sunburst and Aurora awards, and reviewed to much acclaim in the Huffington Post. She released a YA title in 2014 with CZP called The Door in the Mountain, the first in a series.