Book Review: ‘1066 Turned Upside Down: Alternative Fiction Stories by Nine Authors’

1066 was a pivotal year for England: it brought the death of two kings and end of Anglo-Saxon rule, the Battle of Hastings, and the Norman Conquest. 

‘1066 Turned Upside Down’ is a collection of speculative historical fiction, presenting some very enjoyable reading and some really thought-provoking alternative histories. 

As a collection, the quality of the writing is exceptional and the variety of possible outcomes presented is truly fascinating. My personal favourites are the contributions by Annie Whitehead and Joanna Courtney, but I also really enjoyed Richard Dee’s story that highlights the power of teachers to inspire and mentor their students. 

It is not necessary to know the history of 1066 before reading: these stories will satisfy both curious minds and history buffs alike. The true historical context of each story serves as an introduction for the fictional account that follows. 

The stories are all quite believable, each one challenging the reader to question: what might have been if things had gone even just slightly differently? 

Book Review: ‘A Study of Rusalki : Slavic Mermaids’ by Ronesa Aveela

I had read stories of sirens and nymphs before, but there is so much more to this aspect of folklore than many people have ever realised. Prior to reading ‘A Study of Rusalki’, I had no idea that the Slavic culture of mermaids was so interesting and complex. 

This book is easy to read, well organised and quite fascinating. From superstition and legend to history and literature, the author provides a comprehensive study of a culture and belief system that seems little known beyond its own region.

The selected excerpts from literature are wonderfully entertaining, but also add depth and substance to the author’s descriptions and analysis.

Audiobook Review: ‘The Asylum’ by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

This novella-length story serves as a prequel to Goodwin’s The Forensic Genealogist historical mystery series featuring Morton Farrier, using an intriguing research case to frame the beginning of Morton’s relationship with Juliet. 

Morton’s investigation takes him back to 1924 and the death of a young woman in an asylum. The results of his research are completely unexpected, in more ways than one. 

The story is well-constructed and highly  engaging, with some really nicely crafted creepy moments and great twists to keep the reader guessing. 

The narration is clear, well-paced and most enjoyable to listen to. The audiobook runs for a little over 2 hours, a great length to for well into a quiet afternoon, a drive or a longer commute. 

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.

Book Review: ‘A Little Favor’ by Erik Schubach

An enjoyable short read set in 1930s Germany.

Erik Schubach A Little Favor
When Jillian agrees to do a little favour for a friend, things take a turn for the worst. Thus we see her drawn into a world that she never expected to be part of.

 

This is an enjoyable short story, easily read in less than an hour. Some of the 1930s slang – which would have been quite at home in an old black & white detective noir film – was a little mystifying, but the story was generally quite well told.

 

I liked the personal qualities that made Jillian stand out amongst pre-war stereotypes, and which she drew on in order to complete far greater errands than that initially entrusted to her.

Acorn Award II Silver

As an enjoyable short read, ‘A Little Favor’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

 

Readers can buy a copy of the book at Amazon.

Book Review: ‘So Much For Buckingham’ by Anne R. Allen

A well written, clever and very entertaining book.

Anne R Allen So Much For Buckingham
A wonderful blend of comedy, mystery and history, ‘So Much For Buckingham’ plunges the reader into the world of Camilla Randall, an author and bookshop owner who finds her world falling apart around her, bit by bit. Unable for various reasons to rely on those who usually support her, Camilla is overwhelmed by the awful things happening to her and those close to her.  Unwittingly caught up in other people’s murky behaviour, both Camilla and her best friend,Plantagenet, find themselves having to work out what on earth is going on in their lives with very little reliable information to help them.

 

The writing skill and intelligence of the author is demonstrated in the deftness with which the different strands of the story are spun and then woven together. I really enjoyed the fact that this book kept me guessing. The plot is definitely not predictable, and the central characters are both unique and likeable.  The humour with which ‘So Much For Buckingham’ is written is clever, varying between clever puns on names of people from the world of Shakespeare’s play ‘Richard III’, witty conversations, and deep irony in some of the plot developments.  One can read this book at any level of knowledge of things to do with King Richard III, or in complete ignorance of them, and still find the book amusing. The serious moments in the story give weight to the themes of character assassination and cyberbullying in a way which shows the extent of the consequences of such behaviour without devastating the reader.

 

Although this is part of a series, it works well as a standalone. I haven’t read the rest of the series – yet – but at no point did I feel as though there were things I really needed to know from the other books in order for this one to make more sense.

Acorn Award I Golden

In short, this is a well written, clever and very entertaining book. I’ve given it a Gold Acorn for excellence.

 

Get your copy at Amazon.