I read this YA book somewhere between 1981 to ‘83 when I was in fifth or sixth grade after the school librarian recommended it. I believe it was a recent publication at that time, so it would have been published circa ‘79 to ‘83. An adolescent Celtic girl during the heyday of the Druids romps around the ancient forest, climbing oak trees and partaking in mystical Druid rituals and such. The cover depicted her wearing a simple tunic and sitting high up in a tree. I swear the cover also featured a silver medal seal, meaning it would have been a Newberry Honor Book (which means it received an honorable mention rather than the golden Newberry Award seal) but none of the titles listed for Honor Books published during that time ring a bell.
The young heroine may have also been the Druid chieftain’s daughter or was in some way related to a Druid VIP. I think she was a bit of a tomboy and liked to go hunting but I may be confusing that element with another story. While hunting (?) in the mystical magical woods, she spends time with a boy from either her village or the neighboring one and falls in love with him. The relationship was not forbidden or anything, but there was some other type of conflict/controversy centered around her. I believe she ended up being blamed after the crops died or the rain didn’t come or the mistletoe shriveled up or some crap like that, though I can’t remember what she did that was deemed so bad.
At the end of the story, she marries the boy she loves, then at the end of the wedding she drinks mead or some other exotic Druid-sounding beverage from a ceremonial cup. The mead/whatever tastes of almonds or some other ominous substance, thus revealing that the young heroine has willingly drunk poison and sacrificed her own life to restore order and fix whatever it was that she screwed up. I believe the groom may have imbibed too but not sure—he might have voluntarily died with her, or he might have just stood by and watched his love valiantly die and then gone on to woo the next bored Celtic girl.
And people wonder why I read and write “dark romance”, when this was the morbid fare my school librarian recommended to impressionable young readers—not to mention that to this day, I can directly trace my interest in Pagan belief systems to this book. (Perhaps my fundamentalist mother was onto something with her fears of those evil, secular humanists invading the public school system…) Anyone else remember this book, or did I dream all this up?
Sounds like this book rocked someone’s world. Anyone remember this one?