blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Empire of Wild – Cherie Dimaline*

Broken-hearted Joan has been searching for her husband, Victor, for almost a year–ever since he went missing on the night they had their first serious argument. One hung-over morning in a Walmart parking lot in a little town near Georgian Bay, she is drawn to a revival tent where the local Métis have been flocking to hear a charismatic preacher. By the time she staggers into the tent the service is over, but as she is about to leave, she hears an unmistakable voice.
She turns, and there is Victor. Only he insists he is not Victor, but the Reverend Eugene Wolff, on a mission to bring his people to Jesus. And he doesn’t seem to be faking: there isn’t even a flicker of recognition in his eyes.
With only two allies–her odd, Johnny-Cash-loving, 12-year-old nephew Zeus, and Ajean, a foul-mouthed euchre shark with deep knowledge of the old ways–Joan sets out to remind the Reverend Wolff of who he really is. If he really is Victor, his life, and the life of everyone she loves, depends upon her success.
Inspired by the traditional Métis story of the Rogarou–a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of Métis communities–Cherie Dimaline has created a propulsive, stunning and sensuous novel.

My thoughts:

Blending traditional mythology with crime thriller, this is a smart and gripping book with a strong protagonist in Joan, a member of the Métis community in Canada’s Georgian Bay.

Her search for her missing husband is all consuming, she’s stopped turning up for work regularly (good thing her mum is the boss), she’s drinking too much and it’s all she can talk about. Seeing him in a Walmart car park is a shock, but he doesn’t seem to recognise her.

I loved her sidekicks, twelve year old cousin Zeus and elderly aunt of some sort Ajean, one who doesn’t know much and one who knows too much. Zeus won’t be left behind as Joan starts following the revival mission Victor seems to have been claimed by, and Ajean provides the ancient wisdom of their people that just might save him.

I don’t know much about the beliefs of First Nations people, only what I’ve read in books so this was interesting, the rogarou or similar creatures occur in several cultures around the world, dangerous creatures that seek to take you over if you get caught. The author is Métis herself, so this is her history and culture brought up to date in an intelligent and enjoyable read.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Sins of Allie Lawrence – Philip Caveney*

After a blazing row with her mother, sixteen-year-old Allie Lawrence impulsively runs away from the family home in Killiecrankie, with no plan other than to go to Edinburgh to ‘be an actor.’

Then a chauffeur-driven car pulls up beside her and she’s offered a lift by its handsome and mysterious passenger, Nick. Against her better judgement, she accepts – and soon discovers that he is a ‘manager,’ who claims he can make all her dreams come true.

She just needs to sign a contract… The Sins of Allie Lawrence is a tale of temptation, inspired by the legend of Black Donald, and set against the vibrant world of the theatre.

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Philip’s Caveney is an award-winning author whose first novel was published in 1977. Since then, he has published many novels for adults and since 2007, a series of children’s books that have sold all over the world, the Sebastian Darke series and another well-received series – The Alec Devlin Mysteries. He has written the successful Crow Boy trilogy for Fledgling Press and The Calling and The Slithers too. Philip also writes as Danny Weston – winner of the Scottish Book Trust Teen award 2016. Philip now lives and writes in Edinburgh.

My thoughts:

Black Donald is a Scottish myth/legend and an iteration of the Devil, and this story about temptation and bring careful what contracts you sign reminded me of another story about Old Nick – Faustus.

Allie is sixteen and while running away from home is offered a lift by a grinning stranger, who introduces himself as Donald “but you can call me Nick”.

After that suddenly all her dreams are coming true, one signed contract, and she has a fancy apartment in Edinburgh, a starring role in a new play and a PA called Sorcha who drinks a lot of wine but never eats.

Is it all too good to be true? Is Nick manipulating everyone around her and what exactly does he get out of this arrangement?

A clever, funny and entertaining remaining of an old tale, which proves you still have to watch out, and thoroughly read all your contracts!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Barnabus Tew & the Case of the Hellenic Abduction – Columbkill Noonan*

Zeus is used to getting what he wants…but that was before he met Barnabas Tew!

Barnabas and Wilfred, the unluckiest detectives ever, are happily enjoying their time in India, working on mastering their emotions, and learning how to do all sorts of interesting yoga poses.They’re having a splendid time, and feel as if they’ve finally found some peace in their lives.

Everything changes, though, when Zeus suddenly whisks them away from their idyllic retreat and
demands that they solve a case for him.

Having no choice, they reluctantly accept the job, but quickly come to realize that nothing is as it should be. Zeus’ motives are suspect from the beginning, the rest of the Greek gods and goddesses are untrustworthy at best, and Barnabas’ temper hasn’t improved at all during his time in India.

And, most importantly, who is the mysterious lady who keeps popping up just when they need her? Is she
friend, or is she foe?

To make matters even worse, both Barnabas and Wilfred have unresolved feelings of their own.

Can they settle their own emotional affairs, once and for all? Will they figure out what’s right and what’s
wrong in this topsy-turvy world of lies, intrigue, and trickery? Or will the Greek gods and goddesses prove too much for them?

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Columbkill Noonan is the author of the best-selling Barnabas Tew series, which features a proper British detective from Victorian London who ends up solving mythological cases for gods all around the world.

She was was born in Philadelphia and grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland, and teaches Anatomy and Physiology at a university in Maryland.

Her writing is mostly speculative fiction (especially stories that involve mythology, or the supernatural, or any combination thereof). Some of
her work is a bit on the spooky side, but usually there is a touch of humor (who says the afterlife has to be serious?)

When she’s not teaching or writing, Columbkill can be found with her rescue horse (whose name is Mittens), hiking in the woods, or doing yoga of all kinds (aerial yoga and SUP yoga are particular favorites). She is an avid traveler, and can’t wait to get back to seeing the world again.

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My thoughts:

This book was a lot of fun, I hadn’t come across this series before but I have downloaded the previous books as they’re just so enjoyable and play with some of my favourite things – mythology and Victorian detectives that aim to be (but aren’t quite) Sherlock Holmes.

Barnabus only seems to unravel this case because he has an incredible sidekick in the ever patient Wilfred, some good friends and the help of a few Olympians who don’t agree with Zeus’ behaviour.

They also seem to get further and further into trouble as they go along, from poisoning the Minotaur, to being almost eaten by Scylla and Charybis, to headbutting Hades and insulting Charon. It’s a wonder they ever get out in one piece!

Also one final thing, the author has the most marvellous name and I will be looking out for it on the front cover of many more books.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Snow Song – Sally Gardner*

Women imprisoned by superstition, chained by guilt.

Perched on a mountain in a land of ancient forests is a village, rife with secrets. Cut off from the outside world it is run by the elders, men to whom tradition is all.

Edith lives alone with her alcoholic father who is forcing her to marry the village butcher. But she is in love with a shepherd who promised to return to her.

As the village becomes isolated in a sea of snow, Edith loses her power of speech. And it is this enchantment that will have far-reaching consequences, not only for Edith but for the whole village.

My thoughts:

This is a beautiful, magical fairy tale set somewhere in snowy Northern Europe, I could see elements of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, as well as modern feminist retellings of other fairy tales in Edith and her story. Which is how Edith’s own stories work, weaving together the old and the new.

Edith is the only woman, who finds strength in the midst of terrible heartbreak, to stand against the butcher and his cruelty (he seems a Bluebeard figure, there’s no explanation as to what happened to his previous wife) in the small village where fear, tradition and the elders (all men) hold sway.

Edith’s bittersweet winter in the forest (where the East of the Sun… came through strongest for me) enables her to return to the village and start to put things right, with her father, for her friends.

Lyrical, moving and with the gentlest of hope for the future at its ending, this is a stunning new fairy tale for this winter and those to come.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of of book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Orfeia – Joanne M. Harris, illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins*

The stunning new novella from No 1 bestselling author Joanne Harris: Orfeia is a gender-flipped retelling of the Orpheus Myth, beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins.

When you can find me an acre of land,

Every sage grows merry in time,

Between the ocean and the sand

Then will you be united again.

So begins a beautiful and tragic quest as a heartbroken mother sets out to save her lost daughter, through the realms of the real, of dream, and even into the underworld itself.

But determination alone is not enough. For to save something precious, she must give up something precious, be it a song, a memory, or her freedom itself . . .

Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French writer, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories.

Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy.

In 2000, her 1999 novel CHOCOLAT was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. CHOCOLAT has sold over a million copies in the UK alone and was a global bestseller.

She is an Honorary Fellow of St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded an MBE by the Queen.

Her hobbies are listed in Who’s Who as ‘mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion’. She plays bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16 and runs the musical storytelling show Storytime.

Joanne lives with her husband in Yorkshire, about 15 miles from the place she was born.

Find out more on her website or follow her on Twitter

My thoughts:

As a Joanne Harris fan, I knew this book would be a treat but I didn’t know how much it would be for a fairy tale and mythology nerd like me.

Inspired by the myth of Orpheus, who travels to the Underworld of Hades to bring his wife Eurydice back to the living world, this magical novella sees Fay descend to Death’s realm to ask for her daughter Daisy’s life back.

Along the way she encounters the fairy King Alberon who tries to convince her to stay in his realm, the Night Train full of the dead, that never stops, and other strange beings, like a singing tiger.

I could see shades of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, the story of Persephone, and so many others peeking out through this beautiful tale. I also liked the inclusion of the correction about who perches atop the fountain in Piccadilly Circus – it’s not Eros, but Anteros.

Which also features stunning illustrations, conjuring images of Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market, and the otherworldly creatures that haunt traditional folklore.

This is altogether an absolute delight, a tale of love and loss, both a retelling and a completely new myth.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: North – Lucas Ehrenhaus*

After one of the most decisive warring campaigns in European history between Barbarians and Romance, the sheer possibility of a full-scale Roman invasion into Barbarian lands launches a lifelong recruitment process, which drives to the re-discovery of old mighty forces in the long forgotten North.

The most apolocalyptic pan-tribal conflict amongst central and northern European natives will ensue.

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My thoughts:

This was a really interesting book, complete with historical dates and illustrations, featuring some of the most well known (and some of the lesser known) Norse gods and myths. We think of the Romans as the civilising force of history, bringing culture and hygiene to swathes of the then known world. But those that they forcibly civilised had other opinions, and this tells of one.

The Norsemen were not interested in the Roman way of things, of their religious beliefs and gods, they wanted to be left alone.

Ehrenhaus attempts to simplify Snorri Sturlusson’s work, The Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda (I have read chunks of both and they are not easy), and I think he mostly succeeds, by focusing on the gods and dwarves at the heart of Norse mythology, the great stories that were passed down from campfire to hearth fire.

I found the book a little simplistic at times and they layout of the pages annoying to try and follow, as a lot is imparted in a small space. However I was pleased with this overall. While Greco-Roman mythology is taught in most schools, Norse mythology often seems a bit forgotten, which is a shame as many of us have Anglo-Saxon roots and not knowing the stories of our ancestors seems a shame. Most people think Marvel invented Thor, god of thunder when he really pre-dates comic books by several centuries!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Foxfire, Wolfskin & Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women – Sharon Blackie*

Charged with drama and beauty, this memorable collection by a master storyteller weaves a magical world of possibility and power from female myths of physical renewal, creation and change. It is an extraordinary immersion into the bodies and voices, mindscapes and landscapes, of the shape-shifting women of our native folklore. We meet the Water Horse of the Isle of Lewis, the huldra, the Scandinavian supernatural forest-dweller, and Baba Yaga of Slavic folklore (but will she help you or kill you?) Here too is the Snow Queen; the wild bird-woman of the Sliabh Mis Mountains; Blodeuedd, the Welsh ‘flower-faced’ woman.

Drawing on myth and fairy tales found across Europe – from Croatia to Sweden, Ireland to Russia – Sharon Blackie brings to life women’s remarkable ability to transform themselves in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances. These stories are about coming to terms with our animal natures, exploring the ways in which we might renegotiate our fractured relationship with the natural world, and uncovering the wildness – and wilderness – within.


Dr Sharon Blackie is a writer, mythologist and psychologist, and an internationally recognised teacher of the mythic imagination. Her bestselling book, If Women Rose Rooted, won a 2016 Nautilus award, and laid out a haunting heroine’s journey for every woman who finds power, inspiration and solace in the natural world. She has an international following through her online communities, and the courses and workshops she offers through ‘The Hedge School’. Her first novel, The Long Delirious Blue, was described by the Independent on Sunday as ‘hugely potent’. She lives in Connemara, Ireland.

Website

Illustration from Foxfire…

My thoughts:

As someone who has studied folklore and fairy tales I was thrilled to be asked to review this fascinating volume.

Containing retellings of myths of selkies, huldafolk and faerie, drawn from folk tales hailing from Scandanavia, Western Europe Ireland and the British Isles, Blackie weaves a magical spell, empowering the often silent female characters of these tales; giving them voices and a chance to right the wrongs done to them.

I was familiar with a large number of these tales previous forms but a few were less so, which I think makes the book much more interesting. The blend of strange and familiar, old and new.

Blackie is an accomplished writer and it shows, even in such slight tales as these, the writing is rich and the characters empathetic and powerful.

She draws on the rich tradition of shape shifters in literature, which stretches across oceans, often women whose power is stolen from them along with their true form. By giving them voices she is giving them back their power and they take back their true shapes.

Women are shape shifters in real life too; flowing between forms all day long, between mother and daughter, professional to friend, changing our shape to fit into the world. These are definitely feminist retellings, many of the characters had no agency in their original tales, and all the better for it.

In an age where women’s strength is often dismissed we need more reminders of the power inherent in women.

*I was kindly gifted this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.