Posts Tagged ‘Historical’

The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola

July 25, 2018 - 10:02 pm No Comments

The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola
Published by Tinder Press on 26th July 2018
352 pages

In 19th century Great Britain folklore was popular especially with the working class. Everyone would gather together to listen and swap stories. Each part of the country had variant stories and the task of collecting such stories were down to a small select few called folklorist.
Audrey Hart grew up listening to these stories. Unhappy with her life in London, she jumped at the chance to go to the Isle of Skye and help collect the traditional stories. As Audrey starts to collect the stories, she hears about the missing girls and when one turns up dead, she wants to find out whether it is the faerie folk or a resident of the Isle.
Lately I have read quite a few historical fiction, one thing they all had in common was the thriller element and this one was no different. However the addition of the folklore made the story more fascinating. Audrey was not your typical woman of that time, single, headstrong and ambitious. Travelling by herself to the Isle of Skye was brave.
Reading this story you can see that it was well researched not just the historical element but the folklore as well. The descriptive style of the author’s writers made the scenes come alive and it felt that you were there watching the mist roll in, whilst the mystery unfolded. The story never seemed to slow down as there was always something going on, whether it was Audrey walking around the countryside collecting stories, or her trying to fight for the girls. Whilst I had an inkling of the culprit, the reasoning surprised me. Whether you are a lover of historical fiction or are fascinated with folklore you will be in for a magical read.

Scouse Gothic by Ian McKinney

May 21, 2018 - 5:35 am No Comments

My turn for the book tour for Scouse Gothic by Ian McKinney. Learn more about book and my review of a vampire in Liverpool.

Scouse Gothic by Ian McKinney
Published by YouCaxton Publications on 2nd October 2015
200 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Melville was a vampire, but if you walked past him in the street, you would not know. Living in Liverpool, trying to stay “teetotal” he lived an unassuming life, but his past is trying to catch up with him.
I have read quite a few stories about vampires and they all have one thing in common. They are strong beings trying to inforce their power either by killing each other or by turning their victims. Melville was different, a quiet man who just wanted to live his life. To make his life more complicated, he had fell off the wagon, had a body to dispose of and had a new love interest. Added to the story is Lathom a retired hitman turned antique dealer, Kelly, a man with no morals with a past of his own, Peter, recently bereaved who talks to an angel, Catherine, a woman out for revenge and Sheryl, the larger than life love interest.
Reading this story you can tell that it was well plotted with only a handful of characters their stories were interlinked and each character you learn about in detail. Reading a story about an immortal, there is a lot of life history and throughout you get to know more about Melville and to say he lived an eventful life is an understatement. There was always something happening which kept me turning the pages to find out what was coming next. Kelly has some of the bloodiest scenes and there was one of the most unique ways of escaping that I have read. Scattered throughout there are some funny moments thanks to Frank the pigeon come angel and I laughed out loud when he described religion to different chains of fast food restaurants.
The author takes the vampire myths and throws them out the window and it was a refreshing change to read something different, even down to the way Melville was turned. Liverpool is a place I have never visited, however with the details in the book Ian McKinney is an ambassador for the city full of history.
With its mixture of historical, thriller and vampires it makes it attractive to a vast amount of readers. Finishing on a cliff hanger and a box of chocolates, this was a great start to a series which has got me hooked

19 Abercromby Square: Owned by the Chavasse Family and previously the Confederate banker Priorleau 

Now from the man himself

SCOUSE GOTHIC: Facts and Fiction
When reading fiction, I’ve always found it more believable if it’s based on fact, whether that is a real event, or even a real place. Consequently, when I began writing SCOUSE GOTHIC, I was determined that all the events would take place in actual locations.
Although I was born and bred in Liverpool I hadn’t lived in the city for many years. However, a combination of events meant that I had access to a new apartment in the city centre for a few months. It was during this time that I wrote the majority of SCOUSE GOTHIC.
While spending weekends there, I began to explore the city, and was constantly surprised by how much it had changed – but also, by how much of it was totally unchanged from my youth. Many of the old buildings had survived redevelopment and many had found new uses. As I walked through the streets I imagined my vampire, Melville walking the same streets and remembering his past lives in the city.
The apartment I was using was high up in a new development and overlooking Chavasse Park. I’d spend many hours looking out over the city, trying to imagine how Melville would feel, watching people in the park far below. Would he feel unconnected to them and their lives? After all, he is always an outsider, unable to put down permanent roots or have long-term relationships. How do you explain not growing older? Or the occasional missing person? No doubt he would watch individuals in the park and think them insignificant and their lives worthless. Perhaps considering them not as human beings, but prey – fresh blood to feed his addiction.
As the book progressed, I introduced more characters who all had their own personal relationship with the city. In each case I began to develop their character by walking in their shoes. Each location was recorded on a map which I reproduced in the book. I also took photographs as an aide-memoir when writing scenes at a later date. I’ve since posted these on the ‘Scouse Gothic Books’ page on Facebook, so that readers who are unfamiliar with Liverpool can see the actual locations used in the books.
I discovered that many of the buildings that Melville would have known from his previous visits to Liverpool in 1862 and 1914 have now found others uses: a church is now a bar; a dock is now a tourist attraction etc. This gave me the opportunity to explore Liverpool’s past, alongside that of Melville’s.
It started with the park I stared down on from my apartment, Chavasse Park. Why was it called that? I found out that it’s named after Noel Chavasse, a local hero from the First World War. (He was a Doctor who won the VC twice, the second posthumously) I imagined that Melville would have known him and served with him, called him a friend. Which is why he refers to it as ‘Noel’s Park’, and that in turn triggers a memory about the King’s Liverpool Regiment and 1914.
I then discovered that at that time, the Chavasse family lived in a house in Abercromby Square, and that had originally been owned by a man called Priorleau. In 1862, Priorleau was the banker for a Confederate conspiracy to secretly build warships in Liverpool to fight in the American Civil War. This led me to the story of a Confederate warship called the Florida and another story from Melville’s past.
As I walked the streets, I’d see a date on a building and wonder what it used to be? The more I delved into the history of Liverpool, the more strange coincidences I discovered. It was as though every building had a secret it was hiding. Just like my characters in SCOUSE GOTHIC, who each appear one thing to the outside world, but who are all something else entirely. Something much darker and much more complex.
Perhaps Liverpool had ceased to be merely a location for my characters to inhabit, but a character in its own right?
Which is fact and which fiction? I’ll leave that to my readers to decide.

Righteous Maleficia by Emir Skalonja

December 8, 2017 - 10:30 pm No Comments

Righteous Maleficia by Emir Skalonja
Published 30th November 2017
167 Pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

If you know your history, then you would know that in Medieval times, parts of Europe were hit by the black death. A fatal disease that killed thousands, the majority being the poor villagers. The villagers in Blythe’s Hollow, not only had the plague to contend with but a treacherous land owner. As the plague hit the village, the downtrodden villagers, turned to Magdalene, a local witch, who could heal where others failed. However, any villager who was found guilty of witchcraft, faced the wrath of the Church. Using barbaric medieval torture devices, the priests did not care who they brought to judgement. The villagers needed a hero who would stand up and fight.
The Villagers: Living in such squalor, they relied on each other for help. Edgar and Farah were very much in love, living with Cederic Edgar’s disabled father. Bradyn was Edgar’s best friend and throughout you sense how close they were. Working on Lord Kenway’s lane Bradyn always tried to cheer up Edgar with his dry wit. Over time even he was feeling down trodden.
The Church: Father Lawrence overseas the church and is judge and jury when it came to the villagers. Father John and Brother Samuel, both got pleasure punishing the victims. The only monk that had some sort of conscious was the meek Father William.
From the start you are introduced to the horror of the medieval times, with graphic torture scenes, it shows that not all horrors are demon made. Magdalene was seen as hope for the village, although I sensed she had a hidden agenda to protect herself and when Edgar and Farah came her way she used their love for each other to get what he wanted. The villagers story was harrowing and the illustrative way the author wrote their story, made you feel that they were all going to perish. The story was a fast pace and you could tell that the author had done his research. Whilst I have read some short stories written by this author, this was the 1st novel I have read and I am looking forward to reading his other works.