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Strange Girls And Ordinary Women – Morgan McCarthy

Published March 10, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

They say you know instinctively who to trust.

Alice is normal; she’d never do anything rash. But when she sees her husband one day with a younger girl, she knows at once that he’s having an affair. And it must be stopped.

Vic loves her friend Michael, more than he knows. He wants happiness, and thinks he’s found it with the magnetic Estella. But Vic feels sure she can’t be trusted – and she needs to make Michael see that too.

They don’t know Kaya; her life is tougher than they can imagine. But Kaya’s a survivor, and she’s determined to find a way out of her miserable world.

Three women, three lives that come crashing together in this dark, lyrical and utterly enthralling story of warped perceptions, female intuition and ‘the other woman’.

What did I think?:

First of all, many thanks to Book Bridgr (the fantastic site which provides books to eager book bloggers like myself) and to Tinder Press for allowing me to read a copy of this intriguing novel in return for an honest review. I’ve never read anything by the author, Morgan McCarthy before and I’m always keen to try new authors especially those that capture my attention with an eye-catching title and a tag-line that states: “We all see what we want to see.”

Strange Girls and Ordinary Women is a story told in three separate parts from three very different and independent women, the style of which took a little while to get used to but once I got each character established in my head I really enjoyed reading about each one individually. We have Alice, a “normal” housewife who is married to Jasper but her world is about to change forever when suspecting him of having an affair, she follows him and sees him meeting a younger woman. Then there is Vic, British born but living in Madeira where she manages a hotel that was formerly owned by her parents. Vic has had quite an interesting life and flirted quite seriously with Catholicism when she was younger, led into it by her childhood friend Kate who then passed away. When Vic’s oldest and very good friend Michael moves back to the island, Vic is ecstatic but less so about his girlfriend Estella as she has strong suspicions that there is something not right about her. Finally, my favourite character of the book – Kaya who has had a tough childhood trying to look after her alcoholic mother, Louise. Attempting to sever some ties and reclaim control over her life, Kaya moves in with a friend and makes money by stripping in an exclusive club. This is merely a short-term measure however as Kaya has many plans and ambitions for her future, things that may come to fruition when one of her rich (and married) client takes a fancy to her.

When you first begin this book, you wonder how there could be a connection between three such different women but there is a definite link that once discovered will have you quickly thumbing through the pages to determine how it will all be resolved! Each woman has something about them that kept me wanting to read and those that seem predictable turn out to be quite the opposite in the end. I probably enjoyed Kaya’s story more than the other two women but they all managed to surprise me in some shape or form. The author also cleverly mixes in an open ending for the grand finale so the reader is left to make up their own mind about the direction some of the characters may have taken. Anyone who finds this particular style frustrating will probably not enjoy this but I personally found it quite refreshing and I enjoyed making up alternate futures for them all! For my first book from this particular author, it was a good solid read with some lovely prose and interesting ideas and I shall certainly be checking out more books in her back catalogue.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

 

Author Interview – Sarah Hilary on her new crime novel No Other Darkness (Marnie Rome #2)

Published July 7, 2015 by bibliobeth

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SARAH HILARY – A BIOGRAPHY

Sarah Hilary lives in Bath with her daughter, where she writes quirky copy for a well-loved travel publisher. She’s also worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. An award-winning short story writer, Sarah won the Cheshire Prize for Literature in 2012. Her debut novel SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN, featuring the tenacious Marnie Rome, was selected by Richard & Judy for their Book Club in Autumn 2014.

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Interview with Sarah Hilary

I’d like to welcome Sarah to bibliobeth today and thank her for her time in giving this interview!

1. How did it feel to have your debut novel, Someone Else’s Skin picked for the Richard and Judy Book Club?

It was pretty amazing! For me, WHSmith is still the place I bought my summer specials and new pencil cases at the end of the holidays. The smell of the place hasn’t changed—reminds me of those Malory Towers books I bought with my pocket money when I was eight. Now my book’s in there and it’s just… Wow.

2. No Other Darkness is your second novel featuring the fabulous DI Marnie Rome. Do you have her entire past history mapped out already or may there still be surprises to come?

With Marnie, it’s all surprises. I write to be surprised, so I’m happy to let Marnie keep her secrets until she’s ready to share. As long as the reader sees a little more of her with each book, I think that’s a good principle—to hold back on the juicy stuff.

3. You touch on some quite difficult subjects in your books including domestic violence and child abduction. Do you find this process quite harrowing or do you manage to switch off in some way?

While I’m writing each book, I’m generally so bound up in the story that I don’t think about switching off. The story’s always in my head during this time and the characters are whispering to me, which is great because that’s what makes the books feel real and immediate. It’s only after I’ve finished a complete manuscript that I feel as if someone’s walloped the back of my head with a wet sandbag.

(bibliobeth: “Ouch!”)

4. Is it true that your books have been picked for a television series? If so, how involved will you be with this process and do you have a clear picture in your head of what your characters should look like?

Yes, the series has been optioned for television which is very exciting. The process is quite collaborative and I’ve met with the scriptwriter, who has some terrific ideas about bringing Marnie and co to the screen. I don’t have a very clear picture in my head while I’m writing, with one or two exceptions—for instance, I always saw Tim Woodward as Marnie’s boss, Welland. And I’d love Jason Watkins to play Douglas Cole from No Other Darkness. For Marnie, I’d want Natasha O’Keeffe, with Bill Milner to play her foster brother, Stephen. So, yes, I have spent some time dream-casting!

5. Are you working on anything at the moment and can you tell us anything about it?

I’ve just sent book three, TASTES LIKE FEAR, to my editor. It’s a very different kind of case for Marnie and Noah, dark and scary and super-twisty. And I’m about to start book four, which doesn’t have a title yet.

(bibliobeth: “I’m so excited!”)

And now for some quick fire questions!

E-book or real book?

Real book, with real book smell.

Series or stand-alone?

Love both, but an addictive series is my favourite thing.

Fiction or nonfiction?

I read both, love both.

Online shopping or bookshop trawling?

Trawling, always trawling.

Bookmarking or dog-earing?

Bookmarks, all the way.

(bibliobeth: “My kind of reader!”)

 

Once again, a big thank you to Sarah and to Elizabeth Masters, Headline PR Manager for their efforts in making this interview possible. I can’t wait for book three!

No Other Darkness was published on April 23rd 2015 by Headline Books and is available from all good book retailers NOW. Sarah Hilary’s debut novel in the series, Someone Else’s Skin is also available and I highly recommend starting with this one.

No Other Darkness (DI Marnie Rome #2) – Sarah Hilary

Published July 6, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

From the Richard and Judy bestselling author Sarah Hilary. The phenomenal Marnie Rome returns in the outstanding follow up to the critically acclaimed SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN.

Two young boys.
Trapped underground in a bunker.
Unable to understand why they are there.
Desperate for someone to find them.
Slowly realising that no-one will…

Five years later, the boys’ bodies are found and the most difficult case of DI Marnie Rome’s career begins.

Her only focus is the boys. She has to find out who they are and what happened to them.

For Marnie, there is no other darkness than this…

What did I think?:

I became a fan of Sarah Hilary’s after her amazing debut novel Someone Else’s Skin which was a Richard and Judy book club choice and a fantastic read which left me in no doubt that this was a series and an author that I was definitely going to follow. Sarah’s second novel featuring Detective Inspector Marnie Rome came out in April and I was lucky enough to get an advanced reading copy from Headline publishers and Book Bridgr in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to them! Well, I was hooked from the very beginning with an instantly intriguing and disturbing prologue featuring two young boys trapped in an underground bunker with no hope or means of escape. Five years later the bodies are found and DI Marnie Rome’s team must try to discover who the boys are and why on earth they came to such a horrific end.

I’m finding it difficult to review this book without giving away any spoilers as, like her debut, there are multiple layers to this story and in the end it turns out to be a hell of a lot more then just a “child abduction,” which is instantly suspected as the main motive for the killing. The author delves into some difficult and controversial areas and her main character Marnie is so determined to figure out the puzzle behind the two boys in the bunker that she risks endangering herself in the process. We also learn a lot more about Marnie’s wonderful sidekick, DS Noah Jake in relation to his childhood and more specifically, his relationship with his brother. The case has affected the team so deeply that they all begin to re-evaluate their ties with their loved ones and I really enjoyed learning more about both Marnie and Noah, two characters that have such an interesting back story and I just know more secrets are going to pop out as the author continues the series!

Once again, the ending was pure magic and such a roller-coaster ride of tension that I was certain I was going to leave finger indents on the book where I was gripping it so tightly. Sarah Hilary has a talent for turning up the pressure notch by notch, very slowly to a point where it almost becomes unbearable (this is all in a good way, of course!). This has the effect of making you feel on the edge of your seat at all times and putting the book down is practically impossible. The dramatic plot, tension and brilliant, relatable and readable characters all combine to make Sarah Hilary one of the best new voices in crime fiction currently writing today. She is also one of the authors that makes me rub my hands together in glee when anticipating a new book from them and I highly recommend starting with Someone Else’s Skin if you haven’t read this author before. All I want to know now is when is the third book coming out again?

Come back tomorrow for my interview with the lady herself when I ask the question we all want to know… does she dog-ear her books?!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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The Lemon Grove – Helen Walsh

Published June 10, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

As recommended on BBC Radio 2 Book Club, a tense, sensuous and piercingly insightful story of sexual obsession.

Each summer, Jenn and her husband Greg return to Deia, on Mallorca’s dramatic west coast. This year the arrival of Emma, Jenn’s stepdaughter, and her new boyfriend Nathan threatens to upset their equilibrium. Beautiful and reckless, Nathan stirs something unexpected in Jenn. As she is increasingly seduced by Nathan’s youth and the promise of passion, the line between desire and obsession begins to blur. What follows is a highly-charged liaison that puts lives and relationships in jeopardy. For Jenn, after this summer, nothing can ever be the same.

What did I think?:

This novel was getting a lot of buzz in the blogosphere and Twitter last year billed as “the hottest summer read,” and I was so intrigued by all the hype surrounding it that I had to succumb. Even though I read it a while again now I’m still not very sure what I think about it. The main character is forty-something Jenn, married to Greg and at the beginning of the story, they are about to enjoy their annual holiday in Mallorca where they rent a villa. This year is going to be slightly different however as Greg’s fifteen year old daughter, Emma is about to join them with her seventeen year old boyfriend Nathan.

Although Jenn and Greg have been happily married for a while now, there are tensions simmering beneath the surface. First, there is Jenn’s step-daughter Emma who is at a difficult and trying age making Jenn feel like she is constantly walking on egg shells around her. Unfortunately, quite a few of their rows or “mis-understandings” have led to Greg siding with his daughter and Jenn feeling quite alone on the outside. To be honest, Emma is a complete brat and knows how to use her tears to her advantage, often using her father as a weapon against her step-mother. Jenn is not completely without fault and tries her hardest to build a positive relationship with Emma but all too often she finds herself a loser in a battle she wasn’t aware she was fighting. Greg himself has recently become more aloof with Jenn, hiding himself away and taking secretive phone calls. Jenn is just hoping that this holiday will bring them closer together again as a couple and is slightly miffed that Emma and her boyfriend will be crashing her plans to re-ignite the spark in their marriage.

So then Nathan arrives. They don’t exactly get off to the best start when they arrive to find Jenn sun-bathing topless. It’s all completely un-intentional but of course Emma believes that this is part of a huge plot to humiliate her. At the start both Jenn and Greg are worried as confident Nathan quite obviously has had quite a bit of ahem… experience and they are concerned that he might be rail-roading Emma into having sex before she is ready for it. Then things get extremely tense as Jenn and Nathan are instantly attracted to one another and cannot deny the heat and sexual tension between themselves. Jenn is confused and frustrated and tries everything in her power to not be attracted to Nathan (it’s her step-daughters boyfriend for crying out loud!) however fails miserably. The rest of the novel presents a page-turning nightmare as the attraction between the two hits boiling point, a situation that can only cause anguish for all parties involved.

Okay, so this book should come with a warning – it’s incredibly hot. The sexual scenes are quite graphic and might be a bit uncomfortable for some readers with a sensitive disposition. I’m not easily shocked but one scene in particular sticks in my mind and I actually had to close my book on the tube in case anyone was reading over my shoulder! This book was also really interesting as none of the characters are particularly likeable but in fact that only serves to make it feel quite authentic as they come across as more human. The author has a real talent for suspense and I found myself glued to each page as the story unfolded. It was almost like reading about a train wreck that you know is going to happen and yet you can’t take your eyes off it. At times I felt like the naughty outsider looking into these peoples lives and it was quite a voyeuristic experience. The book is relatively short, under 300 pages, and is told over the space of one week where the author manages to cram a lot into a small space of time although personally it never felt particularly rushed. What didn’t I like? I can’t really put my finger on it – perhaps it’s the ending which left me a bit frustrated. For fans of tense and steamy reads it’s a definite winner and I would quite like to read some more of Helen Walsh’s work.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

A Discovery Of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) – Deborah Harkness

Published April 9, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

What did I think?:

A Discovery Of Witches has been on my biblio-radar for a few years now so when I discovered that Book Bridgr and the publishers at Headline were giving away copies of the trilogy in exchange for an honest review to celebrate the third book in the series being released I was quick to hit that “request” button. I’ve got to admit that I was quite surprised by this novel as for some reason I thought it was marketed at a younger audience so I was impressed by the maturity both of the plot and of the writing. Our main character is a young woman called Diana Bishop who has excelled in her academic life by becoming a professor of the history of science and keeps herself physically fit by rowing and running on a daily basis. The most intriguing thing about our character however is that she is the daughter of two very powerful witches who were both murdered when she was seven years old. Oh yes, in the world that Deborah Harkness paints, there are four living species – witches, vampires, daemons and humans that, so far, seem to have co-existed relatively peacefully. Due to her parents violent end and because she feels no good can ever come of magic, Diana has suppressed her own “witchy” powers by refusing to acknowledge they even exist.

This is all set to change rather dramatically when Diana comes across an ancient manuscript that appears to be locked at the Bodleian library in Oxford. Entitled Ashmole 782, Diana is surprised to find that she is able to access the spells within and is briefly mesmerised by its contents before she swiftly closes the book and returns it to the stacks, feeling she is opening a huge can of worms. And she is. For now every single supernatural entity in Oxford now appears to be extremely interested in Diana and she begins to feel quite afraid, wondering just what it is that she has unwittingly begun. One of the interested parties is a Matthew Clairmont who is a biochemist, geneticist, wine-drinking, yoga-loving centuries-old vampire. After tiring of his courting technique (which involves following her and watching her sleep) Diana agrees to team up with Matthew to try and solve the mystery of the ancient book and just why it has the other supernaturals all hot and bothered. As Diana and Matthew become closer and fall in love, they realise that their mission is fraught with dangers that they had never anticipated and may even be their un-doing. Apart from vampire/witch relationships being slightly frowned upon in the magical circles they must encounter another enemy that could threaten everything they have. Is there anyone they can trust? Also, how will Diana cope when she begins to encounter powers within herself that she never realised she had?

Confession time. I definitely pre-judged this book. Hey, Twilight had just come out and the world was going a bit vampire crazy so I made an assumption that turned out to be very wrong. If you’re a fan of Twilight or a big YA lover this book is probably not going to be right for you. The pace at the beginning of the novel is very slow as the author sets the scene and explores her characters and to be honest, not much of note really takes place. As the action heats up (around the middle of the book) the plot becomes a bit more intriguing and we learn a lot more about the magical creatures that inhabit this strange little world. It took me a while to warm to Diana as a character, although I loved that the author made her intelligent and independent from the start, perfectly happy in her own skin and her own company (big hurrah!). What did annoy me was that as soon as she fell in love with Matthew she seemed to pander slightly to his control freakish nature allowing herself to become the damsel in distress rather than the super-heroine I was hoping for. There are quite a lot of negative reviews of this novel on GoodReads and I can see the point of some of the criticisms i.e. the length of the novel and the large portions where not much seemed to happen. Personally speaking, I thought it was well written, loved the scientific and historical notes and enjoyed a strong (for the most part) female lead and a riveting ending. It did seem that it got a lot more thrilling in the last third of the book which is why I am fairly eager to read the second novel in the trilogy – Shadow Of Night, just to see where on earth the author is going to take the story next!

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

The Long Shadow – Mark Mills

Published March 18, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Blood brothers or sworn enemies? You never forget what the fight was about…
Ben Makepeace has barely thought of Jacob since school. What he remembers is a competitive, manipulative boy, impinging on his life like a cuckoo planted in a nest.
Now Ben is the wrong side of forty with a young son to support and in need of a backer to bankroll his latest film script. A call to meet hedge-fund billionaire Victor Sheldon is promising, but there’s a surprise in store – Victor is Jacob, now firmly entrenched in a gilded world of riches and glamour.
History can cast a long shadow and while Ben believes his childhood is well over, he soon discovers the roots of the past dig deep, and some can’t let it go.

What did I think?:

I received a copy of this novel from Book Bridgr and Headline Books in return for an honest review so many thanks to them for the opportunity to read it. I’ve never actually read any of Mark Mills’ work before but a friend on GoodReads had thoroughly enjoyed his previous novels so I was quietly optimistic that I would enjoy it. The story revolves around two friends, Ben Makepeace and Jacob Hogg who became friends when at boarding school together. At that time, Jacob was a bit of an isolated child with quite neglectful parents so made himself a second home with Ben’s parents who began to look on him as a son of their own, revelling in his triumphs perhaps a bit too much for their blood son’s liking. At school however, Ben is everything that Jacob wishes he could be and there are many tumultuous years of competition, rivalry and secrets.

Moving forward to the present time, Ben is recently divorced with a thirteen year old son, Toby. He is having a fairly unsuccessful career as a screenplay writer but gets the shock of his life when he receives a call from his agent telling him that a billionaire hedge fund manager wishes to invest in his work with the aim of making it into a film. It sounds almost too good to be true but the biggest surprise is yet to come when Ben agrees a meeting with the wealthy man and it turns out to be his old friend, Jacob. He has altered his appearance, lives a lavish and enviable lifestyle and peculiarly, now goes under the name Victor Sheldon. Victor invites Ben to come and stay with him at one of his many houses, Stoneham Park where the two men re-connect and catch up on many years of history. Victor even offers Ben the job of managing his enterprises with an unbelievably large salary and reassures him that he is serious about making films from his written work. Ben may also have the opportunity of falling in love again, with Mo a sculptor on Victor’s estate.

Somehow, Ben cannot ignore the warning bells ringing – what is Victor’s motive for all this generosity? With the story switching back and forward in time from the boys somewhat strained relationship at school to the present, where all Ben’s wildest dreams seem to have come true, the reader must decide what is really going on here. Is the long shadow over the two men’s friendship from childhood just a shadow? Or, is there something a bit cleverer and malignant at work?

On some levels, this story worked really well. I loved the parts where we heard about the boys school days and enjoyed comparing the character of Jacob then to the sharp and wealthy businessman (with a different name) that he had become. I think my main problem was with the ending, to be honest. With all the tension that was built up, which was done very well by the way – I was expecting something a bit more explosive and revealing and what I got was a bit of a damp squib in reality, which was quite disappointing as it’s obvious the author can write well. I also had problems with the relationship between Ben and Mo, for some reason it didn’t really ring true and I didn’t think Mo was as strong or as interesting a character as she had the potential to be. Would I read another novel by this author? Yes, I think I probably would. I’ve heard that his first three novels are very good and he’s clearly a talented writer, I’m afraid this book just didn’t follow through for me with the ending.

Would I recommend it?:

Not sure.

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

The Raven’s Head – Karen Maitland

Published March 13, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The Raven’s Head by Karen Maitland, author of the best-selling and much-loved Company of Liars, will delight fans of Kate Mosse or Deborah Harkness seeking a new, dark fix.

Vincent is an apprentice librarian who stumbles upon a secret powerful enough to destroy his master. With the foolish arrogance of youth, he attempts blackmail but the attempt fails and Vincent finds himself on the run and in possession of an intricately carved silver raven’s head.

Any attempt to sell the head fails … until Vincent tries to palm it off on the intimidating Lord Sylvain – unbeknown to Vincent, a powerful Alchemist with an all-consuming quest. Once more Vincent’s life is in danger because Sylvain and his neighbours, the menacing White Canons, consider him a predestined sacrifice in their shocking experiment.

Chilling and with compelling hints of the supernatural, The Raven’s Head is a triumph for Karen Maitland, Queen of the Dark Ages.

What did I think?:

Full disclosure time – I’m a massive fan of Karen Maitland and have been since her excellent book Company of Liars which introduced her readers to the dark and gritty world of the Middle Ages. I was therefore very excited to receive a copy of Karen’s new novel, The Raven’s Head from Karen’s publicist in return for an honest review, many thanks to Caitlin Raynor and Headline Books. The story is set in the 13th century and involves a number of intriguing characters, one in particular may win the grand title of Villain Of The Year.

Vincent is a seventeen year old boy who is apprentice to a scribe in the household of Philippe, le Comte de Ligones. He fulfils the role of general dogsbody, running around after the whims of the elderly Gaspard whilst trying to avoid his ferocious stick, beds down on a smelly, uncomfortable and very inadequate pallet at night and dreams of a life out of drudgery. When he happens upon a secret which Philippe is attempting to hide which could have drastic consequences for his family, he grasps the opportunity to try and blackmail his master in return for a better life. The tables are turned, however when Philippe gives him an important mission – to carry an intricate and valuable silver raven’s head to one of his contacts.

Our next main character is a young girl called Gisa, who also hasn’t had the easiest life. She works as an assistant in her uncle’s apothecary shop whilst also tending to her bed-ridden aunt’s every desire. There’s nothing wrong with her aunt really, but she enjoys making the girl run circles around her (and occasionally rub a bit of lotion on her..ugh!). Gisa is almost relieved but very apprehensive when she is sought out by the notorious and much feared Lord Sylvain to be his assistant and help him with his “laboratory work.” However, things start to take a more sinister turn when she realises exactly what his experiments entail…

Lastly, we have a group of priests known collectively as the White Canons, headed by the mysterious Father Arthmael that takes boys away from their families at a young age in order to settle a debt with the assurance that they will be teaching the children and that they would fare better away from their poverty-stricken home. One such boy is Wilky, taken from his penniless and desperate mother and father and given a new name – Regulus. We must question what is happening in the middle of the night however, when a young boy is chosen and taken from his pallet and more often than not, never returned.

There are so many different threads to this story and believe it or not, they are all connected and come together in the end to produce a darkly magical (literally) and spell-binding (also literally) tale with a nail-biting finale that kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved everything about this novel – from the quotes that begin each chapter which are from a genuine alchemical textbook to the scene-setting that Karen Maitland envisaged. This period of history was an incredibly superstitious one and if you did fall ill, the apothecary was usually your best bet, even if their strange concoctions seem slightly irregular (or even psychopathic?) to modern society. The author invokes the smells, sounds and sights of the medieval age so beautifully that it seems effortless although you have to appreciate the amount of research that must have been undertaken to produce a novel such as this. Finally, the characters in the story are superb, no matter how minor a role they are to play. From the wonderfully innocent Gisa to her hideous aunt, from the dastardly villain and ultimate bad guy Lord Sylvain to the cocksure lad with a heart Vincent – I really enjoyed reading about them all. In this novel, Karen Maitland has cemented her role as Queen of the Dark Ages and I truly believe she’ll earn herself a lot more followers with this offering.

Coming up – don’t miss my interview with Karen Maitland where I quiz her about superstition, medieval food and, most importantly…would she ever “dog-ear” a book?!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

stars