Category Archives: Uncategorized

Jane Johnson: Court of Lions (Extract + Review)

AUTHOR

Jane Johnson is from Cornwall and has worked in the book industry for over 20 years, as a bookseller, publisher and writer. She is responsible for the publishing of many major authors, including George RR Martin.

In 2005 she was in Morocco researching the story of a distant family member who was abducted from a Cornish church in 1625 by Barbary pirates and sold into slavery in North Africa, when a near-fatal climbing incident caused her to rethink her future. She returned home, gave up her office job in London, and moved to Morocco. She married her own ‘Berber pirate’ and now they split their time between Cornwall and a village in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. She still works, remotely, as Fiction Publishing Director for HarperCollins.

book cover of Court of Lions

COURT OF LIONS

JANE JOHNSON 

Publication Date: 6th July 2017    Price £18.99

An epic saga of romance and redemption. Court of Lions brings one of the great turning points in history to life, through the stories of a modern woman and the last Moorish sultan of Granada.

 Kate Fordham, escaping terrible trauma, has fled to the beautiful sunlit city of Granada, the ancient capital of the Moors in Spain, where she is scraping by with an unfulfilling job in a busy bar. One day in the glorious gardens of the Alhambra, once home to Sultan Abu Abdullah Mohammed, also known as Boabdil, Kate finds a scrap of paper hidden in one of the ancient walls. Upon it, in strange symbols, has been inscribed a message from another age. It has lain undiscovered since before the Fall of Granada in 1492, when the city was surrendered to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Born of love, in a time of danger and desperation, the fragment will be the catalyst that changes Kate’s life forever.

Court of Lions brings one of the great turning-points in history to life, telling the stories of a modern woman and the last Moorish sultan of Granada, as they both move towards their cataclysmic destinies.

Extract:

It was approaching eleven by the time she’d walked up to the Calle Charca to drop her laundry off with Rosita, a cheerful, tubby Spanish woman whose husband made the deliveries to the bodega and who washed three times a week for those with no machines, like Kate. Picking up fresh laundry a day later was one of Kate’s pleasures. Nothing smelled as nice as sheets that had been dried in the Albayzín sun: it seemed to imbue them with a whiff of the incense of ages past, with bitter oranges and spiced brandy. Then it was on to the little supermarket on the Calle Panaderos and the market in the square for beautifully organic fruit and veg. And still Jess hadn’t rung!

As Kate was making her way back home with her groceries, she thought she heard the muezzin at the mosque, the Mezquita Mayor, just a few streets away, starting to call the Muslim faithful to prayer. She strained her ears toward the fragile sound, but a truck came rattling along the narrow street, making her flatten herself against the rough wall, and by the time its roar had passed, the muezzin had fallen silent. The mosque had been constructed less than twenty years ago, the city finally bowing to the pressure to provide its significant North African population with somewhere to worship other than out of sight in garages and private houses. Catholic Spain might have expelled its Moors at the end of the fifteenth century, but it seemed they had been allowed to return more than half a millennium later, and be woven back into the rich warp and weft of the country they had done so much to civilize. Even if they hadn’t been permitted to give the muezzin a loudspeaker.

She dropped into the Internet café to send Jess an email. Hicham, not Saïd, was on duty, and he did not meet her eyes when she greeted him, or hold his hand out for the money, but instead waited for her to put the coins down on the counter, as if her touch might contaminate him. The place was usually stuffed with young men, but when Saïd was here, she never felt uncomfortable coming in on her own. The way Hicham treated her, though, made her clumsy. Trying to fiddle her change back into her bag, she dislodged a slip of paper, which spun across the melamine countertop toward him. Hicham stopped its progress with a stab of his finger.

“Sorry,” she said automatically. Then added, “Perdón.” She reached out to take it back, but he put his hand flat over it. His black eyes challenged her.

“Why you have this?”

“What?”

He repeated the question. Flummoxed, she shrugged. “Sorry, it’s just a bit of rubbish. I should have put it in a bin. But there’s never one around when you need one, is there?” She laughed awkwardly. Had she unleashed some sort of obscure insult: dropping a bit of waste paper in front of a Muslim man? She had no idea.

“If it just rubbish, why you want it back?”

There was no answer to this. She watched Hicham pick up the paper to scrutinize it. Then she realized what it was. The scrap of paper that she’d winkled out of the wall in the palace gardens yesterday. “Oh. Please, I do want that back.”

Hicham’s lip curled. “I don’t think so. It not yours.”

For a brief, embarrassing moment Kate thought she might burst into tears. What on earth was the matter with her? When had she become so pathetic? He was only a local café worker playing a game with her. A rather nasty, dour little game, exercising a bit of power over a woman: she should recognize that sort of thing by now. And really, did it matter so much? All this fuss over a scrap of rubbish. She rallied herself. “Keep it, then.”

For a moment he looked confused. Then he shoved the paper back across the counter at her. “You don’t trick me like that.” He turned and made for the back room, his mobile phone already to his ear.

She slid the scrap back into her bag. Hicham had truly rattled her; how dare he be so rude? Saïd was always so nice, so easy to talk to, even a bit flirty. He had a Spanish girlfriend, though, a handsome woman called Pilar, who worked at a museum. At least, she thought Pilar was his girlfriend. Did men from his culture even have girlfriends, or were they expected to marry to have a relationship? Really, what she knew about Muslim men—indeed, any sort of men—she could fit on the back of that sweet wrapper, or whatever it was.

She found an unoccupied monitor along the back wall between a group of giggling teenagers and a quiet young man who swiftly angled his body to shield the screen of his monitor from her. As if she cared that he was looking at pornography at midday on a Friday. Except … it seemed she did care. Unwelcome images swam up from the depths of her memory, cutting through dark wate

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Review

I have been wanting to review a book for Jane Johnson for quite a long time, i make no secret of the fact that she is just the most helpful, kind and talented person i have met in the world of books, and has always helped out this woeful reviewer. But all that said i would do an injustice if i didn’t give the book a fully fair review at the same time (and i think she would tell me off)….. so phew… its brilliant. I’m not normally one for the mushy books…. and to be honest this isn’t. While its a romantic book, essentially a love letter to the city of Granada, it is also and more importantly a deeply insightful well researched passionate piece about the the Granada War of the 1400’s , its culture and the people who existed there.

The author expands the story further using multiple perspectives, differing opinions and understanding. The main perspective being a young woman (Kate) a lady who finds herself immersed in a mystery that allows her to escape her own life and her counter part, Blessings who loves the young Sultan.

Jane Johnson weaves her tale with exceptional skill and such a delicate touch, providing some exceedingly real and complex characters. The author uses a real talent for knowing people to push the plot back and forth between past and present taking the reader through a roller coaster of emotions.

As i suspected and hoped Jane Johnson has written something wonderful, handling a delicate cultural plot-line, doing so with such passion for all areas of the book and its people.

Very Highly Recommended

(Parm)

Series
Eidolon Chronicles
1. The Secret Country (2005)
2. The Shadow World (2006)
3. Dragon’s Fire (2007)
Legends of the Shadow World (omnibus) (2010)
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Moroccan
1. Crossed Bones (2008)
aka The Tenth Gift
2. The Salt Road (2010)
3. The Sultan’s Wife (2012)
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Novels
Maskmaker (2010)
Goldseekers (2011)
Pillars of Light (2016)
Court of Lions (2017)
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HWA Endeavour Ink Gold Crown 2017 Longlist

Several Months ago i was shocked to be asked to be involved in the HWA Endeavour Ink Gold Crown 2017 as a Judge, it was without doubt an honor and i instantly started to suffer imposter syndrome….

The fellow judges are all …. well look at the list: Antonia Senior, Imogen Robertson, Amy Durant, Nick Rennison, Kate Atherton and Richard Foreman, all of these people are either industry professionals, writers or top reviewers for print publications… now you see while i felt like the token odd  bod in the room. Yet they all made me feel a big part of the day, my opinion mattered and well it was a fantastic day spent discussing our fav books after so long spent reading a veritable mountain of entries.

The result of the day is our longlist of 12…. I do hope you will read all of them, they all have earned the right to sit here.

Here in alphabetical order is the longlist. Congratulations to all twelve authors!

From the below we have also produced a fine short list that will be out in a couple of weeks…… how on earth we get a winner…..thats a hill yet to climb.

thank you to all my fellow Judges for making me feel so much a part of this.

You can find all 3 Lnog Lists here: You can see all three of the longlists here on the HWA website.

 

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Sherrilyn Kenyon: Dead Men Walking (Blog Tour)

Sherrilyn Kenyon

Author Bio

About the author:

Writing as Sherrilyn Kenyon and Kinley MacGregor, she is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of several series: the Dark-Hunters; the Lords of Avalon; and the League. She lives with her husband and three sons in Nashville, Tennessee.

www.sherrilynkenyon.com

www.twitter.com/kenyonsherrilyn

www.facebook.com/AuthorSherrilynKenyon

Deadmen tell their tales . . .

To catch evil, it takes evil. Enter Devyl Bane – an ancient dark warlord returned to the human realm as one of the most notorious pirates in the New World. A man of many secrets, Bane makes a pact with Thorn – an immortal charged with securing the worst creations the ancient gods ever released into our world. Those powers have been imprisoned for eons behind enchanted gates . . . gates that are beginning to buckle. At Thorn’s behest, Bane takes command of a crew of Deadmen: humanity’s last hope to restore the gates.

But things are never so simple. And one of Bane’s biggest problems is the ship they sail upon. For the Sea Witch isn’t just a vessel, she’s also a woman born of an ancient people he wronged – a woman who is also sister to their primary target. Now Marcelina, the Sea Witch, must choose. Either she remains loyal to her evil sister and watches humanity fall, or she puts her faith in an enemy who has already betrayed her. Her people over the totality of humanity? Let’s hope Bane can sway her favour. . .

Other titles by Sherrilyn Kenyon out in 2017

Dragonmark

Paperback | £8.99 | 2nd February 2017 | Dark-Hunter series

 

Centuries ago, Illarion was betrayed – a dragon made human against his will, then forced to serve humanity as a dragonmount in their army, and to fight for them in barbaric wars, even while he hated everything about them. Enslaved and separated from everyone he knew and from his own dragon brothers, he was forced into exile in a fey realm where he lost the only thing he ever really loved.

Now he has a chance to regain what’s been lost – to have the one thing he covets most. But only if he gives up his brothers and forsakes the oaths he holds most dear. Yet what terrifies him most isn’t the cost his happiness might incur, it’s the fact that there is just enough human in his dragon’s heart that he might actually be willing to pay it and betray everything and everyone – to see the entire  world burn . . .

Born of Vengeance

Hardback | £20 | 7th February 2017 | League series

 

Bastien Cabarro survived the brutal slaughter of his entire family only to have his wife pin their murders on him. Made Ravin by The League, he is now a target for their assassins-in-training to hunt and kill. The average life expectancy for such beings is six weeks. But defying the odds is what this Gyron Force officer does best, and Bastien won’t rest until he lays his betrayers in their graves.

Ten years later, he has one chance to balance the scales of justice, provided he relies on his former wingman – the very sister of the woman who testified against him.

** Born of Legend (paperback edition) will be published on the 6th April**

Intensity

Trade Paperback Original | £12.99 | 24th April 2017 | Chronicles of Nick series

 

It’s a demon-eat-demon world for Nick Gautier. Just when he thinks he’s finally gotten a handle on how not to take over the world and destroy it, Death returns with an all-star cast that is determined to end the Malachai reign and lineage forever. Worse? Death and War have found the one, true enemy Nick can’t find, and even if he did, it’s one he could never bring himself to banish or kill.

Now framed for murders he hasn’t committed, and surrounded by new friends who might be turncoats, Nick is learning fast how his father went down in flames.

The heat in New Orleans is rising fast, and Nick’s threat-level has gone into a whole new level of intensity. He’s learning fast that when War and Death decide to battle, they don’t take prisoners. They don’t negotiate. And they’re both immune to his biting sarcasm and Cajun charm. To win this, he will have to embrace a new set of powers, but one wrong step, and he will belong to the side of Darkness, forever

Series
League
1. Born of the Night (1996)
2. Born of Fire (2009)
3. Born of Ice (1994)
aka Paradise City
4. Fire and Ice (2001)
5. Born of Shadows (2011)
6. Born of Silence (2012)
7. Cloak & Silence (2013)
8. Born of Fury (2013)
9. Born of Defiance (2015)
10. Born of Betrayal (2015)
11. Born of Legend (2016)
12. Born of Vengeance (2017)
13. Born of Trouble (2018)
14. Born of Darkness (2018)
The League: Nemesis Rising (omnibus) (2016)
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Dark-Hunter
Fantasy Lover (2002)
House of the Rising Son (2016)
0.5. Phantom Lover (2003)
1. Night Pleasures (2002)
2. The Beginning (2002) (in Sins of the Night)
2. Dragonswan (2002)
3. Night Embrace (2003)
5. Dance with the Devil (2003)
6. Kiss of the Night (2004)
6.75. Fear the Darkness (2007)
7. A Dark-Hunter Christmas (2003) (in Dance with the Devil)
7. Night Play (2004)
8. Seize the Night (2004)
9. Sins of the Night (2005)
10. Winter Born (2004)
10. Unleash the Night (2005)
11. The Dark Side of the Moon (2006)
12. The Dream Hunter (2007)
13. Second Chances (2005)
13. Devil May Cry (2007)
14. Upon the Midnight Clear (2007)
15. Dream Chaser (2008)
16. A Hard Day’s Night-Searcher (2006)
16. Acheron (2008)
17. Until Death We Do Part (2006)
17. One Silent Night (2008)
18. Dream Warrior (2009)
19. Bad Moon Rising (2009)
20. No Mercy (2010)
21. Retribution (2011)
22. The Guardian (2011)
23. Time Untime (2012)
24. Styxx (2013)
25. Son of No One (2014)
26. Dragonbane (2015)
27. Dragonmark (2016)
28. Dragonsworn (2017)
Night Pleasures / Night Embrace (omnibus) (2005)
Shadow of the Moon (2008) (in Dead After Dark)
Dark-Hunter Boxed Set (omnibus) (2010)
Dark Bites (2014)
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B.A.D. (Bureau of American Defense)
1. Bad Attitude (2005)
2. Phantom in the Night (2008)
3. Whispered Lies (2009) (with Dianna Love)
4. Silent Truth (2010) (with Dianna Love)
Born to Be B.A.D. (2005)
A B.A.D. Collection (omnibus) (2011) (with Dianna Love)
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Dark-Hunter Manga
1. The Dark-hunters Vol. 1 (2009)
2. The Dark-Hunters Vol. 2 (2010)
3. The Dark-Hunters Vol. 3 (2010)
4. The Dark-Hunters Vol. 4 (2011)
Lords Of Avalon: Knight Of Darkness (2009)
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Chronicles of Nick
1. Infinity (2010)
2. Invincible (2011)
3. Infamous (2012)
4. Inferno (2013)
5. Illusion (2014)
6. Instinct (2015)
7. Invision (2016)
8. Intensity (2017)
Chronicles of Nick, (omnibus) (2016)
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Belador (with Dianna Love)
1. Blood Trinity (2010)
2. Alterant (2011)
3. The Curse (2012)
4. The Rise of the Gryphon (2013)
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Chronicles of Nick: Graphic Novel
The Dark-Hunters: Infinity, Vol. 1 (2013)
The Dark-Hunters: Infinity, Vol. 2 (2013)
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Dark-Hunters Omnibus
The Collection Thus Far (2013)
The Dark-Hunters, Books 1-3 (2013)
The Dark-Hunters, Books 10-12 (2013)
The Dark-Hunters, Books 13-15 (2013)
The Dark-Hunters, Books 7-9 (2013)
The Dark-Hunters, Books 4-6 (2013)
The Dark-Hunters, Books 19-21 (2013)
The Dark-Hunters, Books 16-18 (2013)
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Dark-Hunter: Deadman’s Cross Trilogy
1. Deadmen Walking (2017)
2. Death Doesn’t Bargain (2017)
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Omnibus
Naughty or Nice? (2001) (with Carly Phillips, Patricia Ryan and Kathryn Smith)
Tapestry (2002) (with Madeline Hunter, Lynn Kurland and Karen Marie Moning)
Big Guns Out of Uniform (2003) (with Nicole Camden and Liz Carlyle)
Stroke of Midnight (2004) (with Amanda Ashley, L A Banks and Lori Handeland)
Love at First Bite (2006) (with L A Banks, Susan Squires and Ronda Thompson)
Dead After Dark (2008) (with Dianna Love, Susan Squires and J R Ward)
In Other Worlds (2010)
Winter’s Night (2015)
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Collections
Midnight Pleasures (2003) (with Amanda Ashley, Maggie Shayne and Ronda Thompson)
Man of My Dreams (2004) (with Suzanne Forster, Virginia Kantra and Maggie Shayne)
Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down (2005) (with Jaid Black and Melanie George)
What Dreams May Come (2005) (with Robin D Owens and Rebecca York)
Playing Easy to Get (2006) (with Jaid Black and Kresley Cole)
Blood Lite (2008) (with Kelley Armstrong, Jim Butcher and Charlaine Harris)
Deadly Promises (2010) (with Cindy Gerard, Laura Griffin and Dianna Love)
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Series contributed to
Angel’s Touch
Daemon’s Angel (1995)
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Non fiction
The Character Naming Sourcebook (1994)
The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the Middle Ages(1995)
The Dark-Hunter Companion (2007) (with Alethea Kontis)
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Anthologies containing stories by Sherrilyn Kenyon
My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding (2006)
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Lucille Turner: The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer (Review)

Lucille Turner, Author of historical fiction, including Gioconda, and The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer

In her own words:

I was born in Bournemouth in 1964. My first book,Gioconda, which I began in 2007 and finished in 2010, is a novel about the life of Leonardo da Vinci. Although some of Leonardo’s work was familiar to me then, the idea only came to me when I fell upon a print of the Mona Lisa in the aisles of a supermarket one day. One avenue of research led to another, and since then Gioconda has been translated into several languages, winning Spain’s Hislibris prize for historical fiction in 2012.
For the past few years I have been busy writing my second book,
The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer. I sometimes review other people’s work for Bookmunch, and enjoy being surprised by things I didn’t think I’d like, be it books or new experiences. And of course I love history

 

1442: When Vlad Dracula arrives at the court of the Ottoman Sultan Murad II, his life is turned upside down. His father Dracul cannot protect him; he must battle his demons alone. And when the Sultan calls for the services of a soothsayer, even the shrewd teller of fortunes is unprepared for what he learns.
Meanwhile, the Ottoman Turks are advancing through the Balkans with Vienna in their sights and Constantinople, the Orthodox Greek capital, within their grasp. As Eastern Europe struggles against the tide of a Muslim advance it cannot counter, Western Christendom needs only one prize to overthrow its enemies.

Review:

This book was a pleasant surprise, the title gives a suggestion of the supernatural with the inclusion of the Vampyr, and the book all the while hints at it, but only in so far as what was perceived to be supernatural in the 1400’s, that’s the beauty of this book. The author takes you on a journey back to the Balkans of 1442, to a time of huge change and turmoil, clashing empires and religions, the end of the old Roman world and the rise of the Ottoman. Lucille Turner covers brilliantly the variances between the court of Vlad Dracul’s father and the court of Sultan Murad giving all the main players a very human face, a persona molded by circumstance and situation as much as personality. She weaves in the political players from all sides of Christianity, the orthodox and the Holy Roman empire, the old pagan Wallachian’s and the many variances between.

Can Dracul and others save the history that lies within Constantinople before its inevitable fall to the Ottomans? Lucille Turners portrayal of Vlad’s time in Murads court goes a long way to show his later personality and enmity with Mehmed II. The book as a whole brings to life a highly evocative view of the turning point of the world and the clashing empires.

Well worth reading.

(Parm)

 

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Fantasy and History: Writing Battle

With Pen and Sword

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I have been asked many times what the difference is between writing about historical battles and fantasy battles.  I suspect I’m going to disappoint you all; especially anyone who sees either genre as special and unique, and say that to me, they are often very similar.  There are differences; for example, considering the effect of a dragon on a medieval battlefield is virtually the definition of ‘speculative fiction’ and trying to imagine the impact of reliable aviation (as in, a hippogrif, or allied wyverns) on logistics or reconnaissance in a  medieval environment is almost as challenging.

But for me, the writer, both kinds of battle scenes are based on experience.  The experience comes to me in different ways; lived experience, like conducting electronic warfare in an aging S-3 Viking;

Military Career

reenactment experience, like commanding a thousand men (and women) in a recreation of a battle…

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Or second hand experience, like reading…

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John Owen Theobald: What the Raven Brings (Blog Tour and Review)

 

raven-tour

John Owen Theobald
John Owen Theobald's picture

Born and raised in Eastern Canada, John moved to the UK to study the poetry of Keats, and in 2009 received a PhD from the University of St. Andrews. He lives in London, England.

John is the author of the Ravenmaster trilogy. At the height of the Blitz, 12-year-old Anna Cooper is sent to live with her uncle, the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London, and discovers that the fate of the kingdom is in her hands. Book 1, These Dark Wings, was released on 11 February 2016, and What the Raven Brings was released 1st Dec 2016 from Head of Zeus, UK.

book cover of What The Raven Brings

London, 1942: the Blitz is over but the war rages on. With the country still fighting for its existence, a young girl takes to the skies…

After her mother was killed in an air raid, Anna Cooper was sent to live with her uncle, the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London. Now, he too is dead. His dying wish was for Anna to be the next Ravenmaster, keeper of the birds who, according to legend, guard the fate of the kingdom. But the Tower authorities won’t stand for a female Ravenmaster, let alone one who is not yet sixteen years old.

Denied her destiny, Anna is desperate to escape the Tower and join the war effort. She bluffs her way into the glamorous – and dangerous – world of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.

But no matter how high she flies, Anna can’t escape her past… nor the secret that it conceals. A secret that could change the course of the war.

Guest Post

I set out to write the origin story of a supernatural legend, and went on to write about something very real but no less amazing: the courage and strength of women in wartime.

When I first heard the legend, ‘if the ravens leave the Tower of London, Britain will fall,’ I wanted to know where it came from. It turns out no one knows. Although the legend has been credited to everyone from Charles II to the Victorians, the first record of it isn’t until the 1950s.

So I wanted to write the origin story of this unexplained legend.

The Tower is a place of many superstitions, but this one – ‘Britain will fall’ – seemed to have its roots in war. The Blitz was Britain’s darkest hour, so I imagined this was the best time for a legend like this to take hold. It is easy to envision the people living in the Tower clinging to this belief, especially as the Blitz intensified and the ravens died, one by one, from starvation or bombing.

In These Dark Wings, the legend originates as a protective charm, as a sick old man, the first Ravenmaster, tells his terrified niece not to fear the Blitz: all she has to do is look after the ravens. They will keep Britain safe. So my character, Anna Cooper, a 12 year-old orphaned by the Blitz and sent to live at the Tower, ensures the survival of the legend.

In Book 2, What the Raven Brings, the war rages on and Anna (now 15) yearns to escape the Tower and join the war effort. She bluffs her way into the glamorous – and hazardous – world of the Women’s Auxiliary Airforce.

The ‘Attagirls,’ as they were called, piloted all kinds of aircraft, collecting Lancaster bombers from factories and delivering them to aerodromes, bringing Spitfires to airfields to be tested and armed, and taxiing pilots to Fighter Command in transport planes.

On top of the rigorous training involved, Anna has an additional problem. Fighting to earn her wings and prove herself, obstacles emerge from an unexpected source: men of the RAF who believe women have no place in the skies.

Because women were deemed unsuitable to be trained on the instrument panel (life-saving in bad weather), or the radio transmitter (life-saving when needing to check in with an RAF station), and since they were banned from flying planes fitted with weapons (life-saving during a run-in with a Luftwaffe raid), female pilots had the dangerously absurd job of flying the aircraft blind, deaf, and without weapons. And in Anna’s case, direct sabotage seems a chilling possibility.

The legend of the Tower ravens protects Anna in These Dark Wings, but in What the Raven Brings she has to learn to protect herself and those around her.

Anna was originally inspired by my grandmother, who lived in London throughout the war. I grew up listening to her stories about it all – the fear and sadness, but also the excitement and the mischief. For Book 2, I took inspiration from my other grandmother, who was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, and one of the toughest people I ever knew. The stories of my grandmothers convinced me to try and pass on their fighting spirits with these novels, which have become a celebration of all kinds of strong women in wartime.

Review

A wonderfully written series, capturing the times with the feelings and mind of a child. The author has a fantastic ability to take you what ever your age and put you in place of Anna Cooper. When HOZ first passed on to me a copy of These Dark Wings i was skeptical, YA can be a hard genre to get right, to talk to that age group where they are starting to feel and be a bit more grown up, but also to appeal to the adults who dip so often into this genre. This author pulls it off with the trick of communicating to all at the same level, my father in Law does it with children, no matter the age he talks to them like they are grown ups, it works.

The writing has that wonderful sparse quality that still conveys so much meaning and sentiment, its exciting and consumes the reader, making them part of the story not just a voyeur. Its a series i highly recommend and one i look forward to reading more of

(Parm)

Series
Ravenmaster Trilogy
1. These Dark Wings (2016)
2. What The Raven Brings (2016)
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E. S. Thomson: Dark Asylum (Blog Tour Guest Post)

E S Thomson

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E. S. Thomson was born in Ormskirk, Lancashire. She has a PhD in the history of medicine and works as a university lecturer in Edinburgh. She was shortlisted for the Saltire First Book Award and the Scottish Arts Council First Book Award. Elaine lives in Edinburgh with her two sons.

 

The lips had been darned closed with six long, black, stitches. Clumsily executed, they gave the face a crude deaths-head appearance, like a child’s drawing scrawled upon a wall . . .

1851, Angel Meadow Asylum. Dr Rutherford, principal physician to the insane, is found dead, his head bashed in, his ears cut off, his lips and eyes stitched closed. The police direct their attention towards Angel Meadow’s inmates, but to Jem Flockhart and Will Quartermain the crime is an act of calculated retribution, rather than of madness.

To discover the truth Jem and Will must pursue the story through the darkest corners of the city – from the depths of a notorious rookery, to the sordid rooms of London’s brothels, the gallows, the graveyard, the convict fleet and then back to the asylum. In a world where guilt and innocence, crime and atonement, madness and reason, are bounded by hypocrisy, ambition and betrayal, Jem and Will soon find themselves caught up in a web of dark secrets and hidden identities.

Guest Post

Writing Dark Asylum, E.S. Thomson

Although I set my books in London of the 1840s and 1850s, it is this history of medicine in Edinburgh that forms the background to much of what I write.   I can’t leave my house without being reminded of it.  Down the road from where I live, for instance, Scottish surgeon James Syme used to own a villa.  I pass his house every day.  James Syme lectured at Edinburgh University medical school throughout the mid 1800s.  He could excise a hip joint faster than anyone – without anaesthetic, of course.  Meanwhile, across town, James Young Simpson was experimenting on himself, trying out a new drug, chloroform, which was to revolutionise surgical procedures and make all areas of the body – including the brain – accessible to the surgeon’s knife. Not far from Syme, on the other side of Morningside Road, Thomas Clouston was building the Royal Edinburgh Asylum.  Ways of treating the mad varied greatly in the mid Victorian period, from incarceration and neglect, to more unusual but humane ‘hygienic’ practices.  Pioneered by Clouston, these included lengthy walks – or runs – around the asylum grounds, dancing, gardening, and the consumption of rich and sedating foods, such as custard.  

Thomas Clouston became one of the key supporters of the first generation of women doctors in the city.  Some years earlier, a young man named James Miranda Barry had graduated from Edinburgh University Medical School.  Barry worked as a surgeon in the British Army all his life. On his death he was found to be a woman, who had lived her entire life disguised as a man, entering the medical profession some sixty yearsbefore women were formerly permitted to receive a medical education.

Around the same time that Barry was at the University, and Syme was amputating legs before crowds of cheering students, a less orthodox medical man was lecturing on the new ‘science’ of phrenology.  Phrenologists believed that a person’s head might be measured and calibrated with a view to explaining their character traits and disposition.  Andrew Combe, and his brother George, both Edinburgh man, started a craze for head measuring that was to remain influential in some quarters of the medical profession for over forty years.

Over the road from the university medical school, a druggist named Flockhart plied his trade, providing James Young Simpson with chloroform, while across town, more medical men were establishing a physic garden that grew to be second only to Kew in terms of the size and magnificence of its collections.  Syme, Clouson, Simpson, Barry, all had their likenesses taken using the new and developing technology of photography.  In 1840s Edinburgh, two pioneers, Hill and Adamson, captured numerous images of the city and its inhabitants, demonstrating to the world the potential of the new medium.

All these ideas have found their way into my work.   I set my books in London, as I wanted a dark anonymous place which the intimate setting of my home city could not provide.  In terms of the medical profession that dominates my novels, however, Dark Asylum and Beloved Poison are pure Edinburgh.

Series
Jem Flockhart
The Blood (2017)
1. Beloved Poison (2016)
2. Dark Asylum (2017)
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