Wednesday, 29 May 2013


by Barbara Scott Emmett

4 stars

In an effort to  reconcile with her estranged husband, Imogen Webb goes to stay at the possibly haunted Deverell Gatehouse with her in-laws. Before long mysterious happenings occur in and around the mediaeval Gatehouse and soon Imogen finds herself transported back to Tudor times. At first these visits are brief but tension soon builds around whether she can get back to the present and bring with her a modern day child who has become trapped there.

Imogen is also desperate to help an imprisoned and tortured priest and to change the course of his life and death at the hands of Mary Tudor. However, she finds herself having to question whether history can, or should, be changed.

This is a gripping timeslip novel and both the modern day and historical sections are compellingly written. The history of the time is chilling and many of the characters are real personages who are brought vividly to life.

The present day characters bicker and get on each other's nerves, creating a lighter counterpoint to the stark 16th century—until the denouement, when they all become embroiled in a fight for life and justice. Running through the novel is a deftly handled romantic strand and a modern day struggle to save the ancient Deverell seat from developers, making this a very satisfying story.

Karen MacLeod usually writes historical novels and this is evident in the accuracy of the period detail. I found I had to pay careful attention in order to keep up with who was who, but then this is not a period of which I already have any great knowledge. Those fascinated by the dark days of religious persecution and bloody murder will love this book.

Barbara Scott Emmett lives in Newcastle and writes in a room overlooking the Tyne. She shares this writing space with her husband, crime novelist Jimmy Bain, and their cat Gizzie. When not writing she edits the work of others and assists in ebook creation.

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