Book Review: ‘The First Queen Of England’ by MJ Porter

Elfrida, or Ælfryth, was anointed and crowned queen of England in the same ceremony that her husband, Edgar, was crowned King in 973 AD. 

‘The First Queen Of England’ is the first instalment of Elfrida’s story. This is a really well-written book, based on sound research and good knowledge of the historical context of the story. 

Historically, there is quite limited information available on the early life of Elfrida, but Porter has penned a well-crafted and believable personal story which, while it is fictional, is consistent what is known of both Elfrida and Edgar and their families. 

This task brings with it many challenges, not the least of which is diffusing a cast of characters from the different perspectives and accounts of history which have been the subject of discussion and debate for centuries. In presenting lead characters who are engaging and interesting, but also flawed and fallible, the author has given the reader people with whom they can relate at a very human level, despite their differences in social status and experience, and the changes in society that have occurred during the vast amount of time that stands between them. 

The supporting characters are likewise portrayed with not only their attractive qualities and strengths on public display, but also their motivations and interests exposed to the reader’s scrutiny. This gives the reader a rich insight into the machinations and social engineering of life at court and among the nobility in 10th century England. The characterisation is detailed, insightful and razor sharp, revealing the author’s considerable talent at filling in the blanks on the pages of history and creating characters that are complex and often quite delightful in the way they play their roles.  
Porter paints the settings and events in vivid colours and textures that seem almost tangible, bringing Elfrida’s home in Wessex and the King’s court at Winchester to life in such a way that each place is depicted clearly and then becomes familiar to the reader as the story progresses. 

A richly and intricately detailed work of historical fiction, ‘The First Queen Of England’ is an immensely enjoyable read. It has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘A Shape On The Air’ by Julia Ibbotson

This brilliant story is an absolutely enthralling blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction.

Julia Ibbotson A Shape On The Air

 

This brilliant story is an absolutely enthralling blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction.

 

Drawn into the life of Vivianne Du Lac, history professor, the reader is almost immediately plunged into an intricate web of complications, challenges and unexpected developments that are woven together so that no strand of the story is independent of the others. The narrative is smooth and well-constructed, and Ibbotson’s writing is excellent.

 

The characters are very well crafted, especially given that each fits into more than one story strand. Viv is the most complex and detailed of them all, being the central character, but the others are all given depth through their interactions and responses as the story progresses.

 

More than simply being enjoyable, this is a thought-provoking and involving read in which the reader becomes completely engrossed. Acorn Award I Golden

 

‘A Shape On The Air’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

 

Get your copy at Amazon.