While some history textbooks are interesting and quite easy to read, it is also fair to say that many are written by historians who do not seem to mind that their works are either lofty, dull, or both.
The beauty of historical fiction is that it has the power to make history accessible to those who otherwise would know little of the events presented in its pages, and to create interest in those men and women who made history through their words, actions and achievements.
Reedman’s historical fiction is both very readable and enjoyable. ‘Blood of Roses: Edward IV and Towton’ tells the story of the events during the Wars Of The Roses that resulted in the coronation of Edward, Earl Of March as King Edward IV. The author has brought history to life on these pages, transforming historical figures into vividly portrayed characters and the reader into an onlooker during those pivotal moments in English history.
Readers who have read and studied the history of this period in detail will find the fictionalised story to be interwoven seamlessly with the account of historical events. Reedman’s narrative is smooth and fluent, and the plot and action of the story are well paced and exciting.
For all those reasons, ‘Blood of Roses: Edward IV and Towton’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
The identity of Jack the Ripper remains one of the biggest mysteries in the history of both Victorian England, and of the murky world of serial killers.
Maniscalco takes that mystery, envelopes it in the life and times of a fictional would-be forensic scientist, shrouds it with London fog, and hides it in a dark place where nobody thinks or dares to look.
‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ is a beautifully written blend of mystery, macabre horror and historical fiction that keeps the audience completely rivered as the story unfolds. Suspense builds from the time of the discovery of the first victim right up to the climax and conclusion.
The cast of characters is varied and complex, each with secrets and personal motivations that intrigue both the reader and one another. The way in which the author drops hints and suggestions is quite tantalising, adding another layer of mystery to the characters and their actions.
I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. The narration was fluent and well paced, and a pleasure to listen to.
I definitely plan to indulge in the sequel very soon.
‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
A great historical fiction novella to introduce Tim Walker’s ‘A Light in the Dark Ages’ series.
Set at the end of the Roman occupation of Britain, ‘Abandoned’ tells the story of the settlement of Calleva Atrebatum, and the determination of its people to resist the fearsome invading Saxon raiding parties who threaten their home and their lives.
This is a story of bravery and commitment, and of townsfolk uniting for a common cause. The danger they face is very real, and in their determination to survive and overcome, the reader witnesses both the best and worst of human nature.
The story gives us a realistic and thought-provoking view of a period of history that is little-known to most, and foreshadows the rest of Walker’s series which continues to tell the story of post-Roman England and those who seek to not only live there but also to control it.
Walker’s storytelling is fluid and lively, full of action, adventure and intrigue. The cast of characters is varied and interesting, ranging from slaves to the ranks of Briton members of the Roman army who, like their countrymen, were left behind when the Romans evacuated to Gaul.
At the end of this novella, the reader is left feeling as though they have become an ally of the people of Calleva Atrebatum, and keen to discover what happens next in the following book in the series.
A rollicking saga full of pirates, rogues, strumpets, sassy parrots and adventure, this story carried me back in time to Port Royal, Jamaica, in the 17th century. The narration brought the story to life very effectively, and I was hooked in no time flat.
The characters are richly drawn, complex and conflicted, each with secrets and passions that drive them and direct the choices and alliances they make. The central characters each have a mission that they seek to achieve, and the reader is kept in eager suspense about how those things may, or indeed may not, come to pass as the story unfolds. Each of them experiences significant moments of revelation and others of relief but, as often happens in life, even these tend to lead to further complications.
The settings, too, are brought to life in vivid color and textures that enrich the story and add another level of depth and engagement in the story. For someone who has never been to Jamaica, the places depicted in the story all seemed very real and clear in my mind.
There is some very amusing innuendo, adult content and violence throughout the book, so it’s not for younger audiences, but it is a story that can be enjoyed by a very broad adult audience because it blends elements of adventure, action, tragedy, romance and mystery with historical fiction, so that the story lines of individual characters are interwoven and tangled in most interesting and diverting ways.
A most enjoyable and entertaining audiobook, ‘No Quarter: Dominium: The Complete Series’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
It is not difficult to be horrified by the level of cruelty that humans will inflict on one another, especially where prejudice and power are involved. There is much in this book that tells of the trauma, the emotional and physical scarring, and the horrors experienced by the victims of such torture experienced not only by those who survived the government pogroms against the Jews in late 19th century Russia, but also by those exposed to the depths of degradation meted out to those who found themselves inside the cruel, cold walls of the notorious Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum in New York.
Based on the true story of Nellie Bly’s infiltration of the asylum and subsequent exposure of the abuses and brutality that occurred there, and on the experiences of many who fled Russia in the hope of making a new life in America, ‘A Different Kind of Angel’ tells the stories of Klara Gelfman and the other women she meets inside that institution.
The book certainly has its dark moments, but it also gives emphasis to the resilience and kindness of people like Klara and her friends Catherine and Nellie. These women are inspirational in their ability to rise above the pain and muck time and time again, reminders to us all of the power of encouragement and kindness in the face of hostility and fear.
Mahurin tells a compelling story. The characters are strongly drawn, and the depictions of the various behaviours of the inmates of the asylum are vivid and, one suspects, based on careful study and research. At no time is the narrative insensitive to the plight of the insane, nor to the individual qualities of each woman and her mental illness. The reader has a strong sense of how their lives and conditions could be vastly different given proper care, nutrition and some kindness, and feels deeply grateful to the few souls who showed these women as much compassion as they were able to.
Overall, the story is more encouraging than depressing, and most enlightening. Despite the darkness, the message of the story is positive and empowering, especially for those enduring some kind of misery or darkness in their own lives.
‘A Different Kind of Angel: A Novel’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
An interesting and entirely absorbing historical fiction novel.
This historical novel explores the friendship between ‘Prinny’ Prince George and Beau Brummel, the leading men of London fashion during the reign of George III. It is a turbulent story of the crests and troughs of the prince’s personal relationships and social fortunes, written from his point of view, providing very personal insight into the thoughts, feelings and inner conflicts of a man who was obligated to live his life in the public eye.
This novel is very well written. The writing is vivid and lively, effectively evoking the sights and sounds of London society and making almost tangible the sensations of fabrics, textures, and settings. The characters are complex and fascinating, although not necessarily likeable. The skill of the author is such that despite his flaws and selfishness, the reader is still strongly positioned to sympathise with the prince and to almost will him to overcome the adverse situations in which he finds himself.
This book is very interesting and entirely absorbing. I have awarded it a Gold Acorn for excellence.