Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Distant Echoes: stories of people, places and times past – Review

Title – Distant Echoes: stories of people, places and times past by writers from the Historical Novel Society
Author – Dorita Avila, Anne Aylor, Anna Belfrage, Richard Buxton, Christopher M. Cevasco, Lorna Fergusson, Cj Fosdick, Mari Griffith, Patricia Hilton-Johnson, Lisa Kesteven, Vanessa Lafaye, Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger, Yvonne Lyon, Jeffrey Manton, Nicky Moxey, S. Pitt, Jasmina Svenne, L C Tyler.
Genre – Historical Fiction/Short /Stories
Length – 171 Pages
Publication – Sept 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Gripping and thought-provoking stories of people, places and times past by writers from the Historical Novel Society.

A new anthology of nineteen award-winning and acclaimed historical fiction short stories.

Distant Echoes brings you vivid voices from the past. This haunting anthology explores love and death, family and war. From the chilling consequences of civil and world war, to the poignant fallout from more personal battles, these stories will stay with you long after the last page.

This selection of winning and shortlisted stories from recent Historical Novel Society writing awards includes The House of Wild Beasts by Anne Aylor (winner of the Historical Novel Society Short Story Award 2014), Salt by Lorna Fergusson (winner of the HNSLondon14 Short Story Award) and Fire on the Water by Vanessa Lafaye (winner of the HNSOxford16 Short Story Award).

Review

If I had to pick one word to describe this anthology it would be heart-rending..the tales were all so beautifully raw and emotive. At the end of the book I wasn’t sad as such.. it just knocked the wind from me and brought me back down to earth. My life has been so far relatively pain free..not everyone has been so lucky.

It’s a very personal collection of tales, In very few word you find yourself immersed like the events are playing out right in front of your very eyes. While it might be a quick read I found myself drifting in-between stories, rereading bits, contemplating events in my own life that seem so trivial now. It left a lasting impression.

It’s hard to pick a favourite from the collection but The Happy Island by Christopher M. Cevasco really hit me hard and I won’t forget it any time soon.

I challenge you to read this book and not be touched by it.

A major plus for this book is although this is a collective work by a number of authors it all fits together nicely. While the stories differ in setting the tone filters throughout the book to make it an easy flowing read.

It’s a touching collection of thought-provoking tales that I highly recommend.

I was lucky enough to be given an ARC copy of the book by Corazon Books to read but how could I read this and not buy my own copy..for me it was worth every penny.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

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The Abbey of Death by Steven A. McKay – Review

Title – The Abbey of Death
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 97 Pages
Publication – 26th Sept 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

He wanted to find peace in prayer, but some men serve God best with a sword in their hand.

Will Scaflock wants only to live in peace. He had more than his share of adventure when he went by the name Will Scarlet and fought corrupt authority alongside Robin Hood. Now widowed and alone, and estranged from his adult daughter, he has taken holy orders and sought refuge in a remote Benedictine abbey.

But even there, trouble and violence follow him. The abbot, John de Wystow, is a good man but a weak leader, and easily undermined by a faction of dissident monks. When the rebels, led by Brother Robert de Flexburgh, run riot in the local community—stealing, drinking, fornicating—Scaflock’s old instincts return. Reluctantly taking charge of the abbey’s moral defence, he finds himself embroiled in a series of fierce clashes with de Flexburgh’s rowdy gang.

As the abbey’s tranquillity is shattered, its cloisters stained with blood, Scaflock is forced to reconsider the direction of his life. Has he really left Will Scarlet behind him—or has he simply been running from reality?

Review

I’m a big fan of Mckay and as much as I knew the end was neigh for the Forrest Lord series featuring Robin Hood I couldn’t help but feel a little down.. I loved the every bit of the series and it was just a shame It had come to an end….Luckily for me the author knows what his readers want and gives them another short that sits alongside the series.

This short is set years after the events of the main Forrest Lord series, Will Scarlet has moved on.. he’s older now and as the world moves on around him he struggles to find his place.

Will ends up turning to religion and is now Brother Scaflock.

We all know Will though don’t we? If he doesn’t find trouble..trouble will find him.

There’s a good plot involving some unruly monks and town’s people who are at their wits end but when things turn violent one night and the stakes are raised Will becomes gods tool. You really do feel like he was sent to the abbey for a purpose in life.

Will has his internal battles. He’s convinced he has no place in this world and he can’t seem to shake his old life.. but let’s be honest we don’t want him too!

What I really like about the book is it gave me a little closure..it’s what I needed to really say goodbye to the character. The end of Will’s tale just felt right and I was left with a big smile at the end.

What the author gives us is another cracking short that builds on his larger works. It’s got the edge to it that makes it dark and gritty at times but over everything else it’s just fun and riveting. As a young kid I grew up on stories of Robin Hood and these books keep the little boy inside me giddy with anticipation every time I read them.

I’m really looking forward to what the author comes up with next as he moves away from Robin Hood and his band of outlaws.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

Blog Tour – The Watcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas – Review

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Watcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas.

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Here’s the blurb –

Synopsis

It’s 1949 when Netta’s father Max is released from a Siberian POW camp and returns to his home in occupied Germany. But he is not the man the little girl is expecting – the brave, handsome doctor her mother Erika told her stories of. Erika too struggles to reconcile this withdrawn, volatile figure with the husband she knew and loved before, and, as she strives to break through the wall Max has built around himself, Netta is both frightened and jealous of this interloper in the previously cosy household she shared with her mother and doting grandparents. Now, if family life isn’t tough enough, it is about to get even tougher, when a murder sparks a police investigation, which begins to unearth dark secrets they all hoped had been forgotten.

The author has kindly wrote a piece on how her work has progressed since the release of Fifteen Words so keep reading after my review for something I hope you’ll find as interesting as I do! It will also give you a little more insight to her latest work.

Review

If you haven’t already I highly recommend you read the authors previous novel Fifteen Words. The Watcher follows directly on and it would give you some background to the characters.

Fifteen Words was the story about Max being held prisoner, The Watcher is a story about how life and Max himself have changed since his release.

Max is a torn man, he’s struggling to come to terms with what happened to him when he was a prisoner and this really made me feel for the man, I don’t imagine being a POW is something you would ever come to terms with.

His relationship with his wife is stretched to breaking, the love they had for each other just isn’t what it once was, so much has changed.

For me this tale was really about Max’s daughter Netta, I loved her. She’s a young girl who’s grown up in an adult world and she hears and sees more than people know.

While the family are trying to come to terms with their own demons a murder occurs that has the police snooping around and the author keeps you on edge until the last moment to reveal all.

I really enjoyed how the ending was written when you see the events play out from different perspectives, this really kept the suspense going.

There’s some good twists in the tale, nicely written and followed on well from the previous novel. The characters  might be the same but this tale had that little bit extra with a whodunit thrown in. It was a change in direction from what I expected but it worked well and I was hooked.

Going back to Max, there is a lot of development for him during the story and emotions are very raw for him and I liked how this was explored. Not easy to read at times as he’s a beaten man with what looks like no way to build himself back up.. just when he needs someone the most he and Netta finally bond and it was a pleasure to read.

Overall I loved it, the unexpected events in the book really kept me on my toes and had me sucked in from page 1. We are left with a little cliff-hanger so I do hope we see more of Max and his family to see how things play out.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon


Monkika Jephcott Thomas

How my work has progressed since the release of Fifteen Words. –  Monika Jephcott Thomas.

Writing my debut novel, Fifteen Words, was a daunting task. No doubt it is for most writers. So when it came to writing the follow up, The Watcher, I was definitely less apprehensive. I was more confident with the whole mechanics of writing and publishing, but I was also on more solid ground with regards to my characters, because some of the protagonists I had got to know so well during the writing of Fifteen Words and the newest character was based on myself – so what could possibly go wrong!

Although the character of Netta is based on me, she is based on my five-year-old self, so the challenge here was to try and recall the feelings, preoccupations, and perspective of a child’s world when I had been resident in the adult one for over half a century. Fifteen Words is quite an adult book – in its events and style of prose. But during the initial drafts of The Watcher I realised that writing in a more ‘childish’ way could be just as powerful, if not more so.

The advantage of writing from a child’s perspective, if you succeed, is that it can illuminate the absurdities of the adult world and adult relationships in a way that no adult character can. The central motivation of a child, wherever they come from, is to play. Children play games. But of course, so do adults in relationships, whether they realise it not. Psychological games, power games, cynical games. Hence, the best person to illuminate how daft these games appear to be, is the unjaded player of innocent games: a child. As Netta thinks to herself after observing her family one morning:

Adults were like the British soldiers who still hung around on the streets: they spoke a different language and had no intention of learning hers.

As well as unwittingly observing the chess of adult interaction for us, Netta soon becomes a direct recipient of adult game-playing, ironically enough, when she stays at children’s home. There the abusive Herr Kahler fulfils his own perverse desires by callously manipulating Netta. You can perhaps see from this extract how it is written with almost fairy-tale repetition, which is intended to elevate Kahler’s callousness to ‘wicked witch’ proportions whilst keeping it in the realms of possibility, as we are reminded more than ever by this fairy-tale style how we are seeing these events through a child eyes. This reminder, I hope, makes the end of the extract even more sickening.

‘What did I tell you to do this morning?’ he growled.

‘Sweep the sand from the driveway,’ she answered.

‘And did you do that?’

‘Yes I did,’ she said.

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Yes I did, Herr Kahler,’ she added to make sure she wasn’t sounding rude. She didn’t want to sound rude. She was just telling the truth.

‘I beg your pardon?’ he repeated.

‘Yes I did!’ She raised her voice ever so slightly in case he was having difficulty hearing her.

‘I beg your pardon, but if you had done what I’d asked you to do, why was there sand all over the driveway when I went out at lunchtime?’

Silence, except for the sound of children enjoying themselves in the garden. Netta couldn’t think of anything to say.

‘I’ll tell you why.’ The red face was getting redder again. ‘Because you’re a lazy, spoilt little girl, that’s why.’

Netta had to tell him this wasn’t true. She had to explain that she had done the job. ‘No, I—’

‘I beg your pardon?’ he shouted, slamming his hands on the table and pushing himself up.

‘I—I—I… yes, I—I’m lazy, Herr Kahler.’

‘And?’ He sang the word like a motorcar speeding up.

‘And spoilt,’ she said, but the words tasted foul in her mouth because she was sure they weren’t true.

‘Yes you are.’ He came out from behind the desk and Netta flinched, but he passed by her and grabbed the broom from behind the door. ‘Now, you’ll go and do it again and you’ll make sure you do it properly otherwise you’ll get the slipper, do you hear?’

She took the broom. It felt like it was made of lead. She went outside. The driveway was covered in sand. Her whole body drooped. But she swept it all away again, more thoroughly than she did the first time with the thought of the slipper hanging over her.

Milla found her at dinner time slumped in her chair at the round table.

‘What happened?’ she whispered.

‘I’m too tired to even tell you,’ Netta sighed.

The two girls ate their fish and cabbage that evening in the kind of silence Frau Auttenberg expected every evening. When the cod liver oil came round Netta opened her mouth obediently, as she had done ever since that long night when she had first done battle with the battle-axe. And when she was allowed to leave the dining room she spat out the oil she’d been hiding into the potted plant on the windowsill in the stairwell, which was growing much faster and looking much healthier than Netta was for its daily dose of fish oil.

But before she could begin to get undressed, Paul came up to her and said, ‘Herr Kahler wants to see you.’

Netta almost cried right there in front of Paul, but somehow she held it in and got herself back downstairs to the office. And it all sounded very familiar.

‘What did I tell you to do this afternoon?’ he growled.

‘Sweep the sand from the driveway,’ she answered.

‘And did you do that?’

‘Yes I did.’

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Yes I did, Herr Kahler.’

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Yes I—!’

‘I. Beg. Your. Pardon?’

She knew what the answer was supposed to be, but she couldn’t believe she hadn’t done it properly this time.

She opened her mouth to speak.

‘Think very carefully before you answer, young lady,’ he snarled.

She couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. If she told the truth she would get the slipper. If she lied and said she had been lazy again, she would get the slipper. This was so unfair!

Herr Kahler got up. He was wearing his pyjamas already with an open red dressing gown on top and red leather slippers to match.

He closed the door quietly and took Netta by the wrist.

Without giving too much away about how this strand of the story ends, it takes another child to see a possible way for Netta out of Kahler’s twisted game. And it has to be a child, I think. The Watcher partly explores the effect of trauma on children in an age when children were supposed to be ‘seen and not heard’ by illuminating that fatal mistake all adults make, as if they have never been children themselves:

how children, seen and not heard, still saw things and heard things, especially the things expressed inches above their heads, which adults somehow believed were inaudible and forgettable to something as absorbent as a child.  


My thanks go to Monika and Authoright for the chance to read and review the book in exchange for my honest review.

Gods of War (King’s Bane #2) by C. R. May – Review

Title – Gods of War (King’s Bane #2)
Author – C. R. May
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 332 Pages
Publication – August 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Spring 524A.D.
As the last settlers board the ships which will carry them to Anglia, Eofer and the men of his war band are sent to harry the Danish coast, drawing the enemy eastwards as King Eomær’s host lands in the west.

But the gods of war can be fickle, and the ravaging does not end as planned.

A warlord, Ubba silk beard, leads the counterattack. Driving the raiders from the kingdom he pursues them through the forests of Scania as the war of fire and steel rages on.

Other forces are at work, other ventures already in play.

Seizing his chance for kingship an assassin strikes, and a new power emerges from the ruins of the old as the young Danish king gathers his army and marches to confront the invader.

Gods of War is the second volume in the bestselling King’s Bane series, the genesis of England.

Review

Before you go any further why not read my review of Fire & Steel, book 1 in the series.

It’s taken me too long to get back to this series but i’m so glad I did.

We are back with Eofer, King’s Bane and it was genuinely a thrill to get back in the action with him and his warband.

For me what made this book a step up from the first is the bond Eofer has with his men. The connection they have with each other is more developed and believable.

This bond is strengthened throughout the book when Eofer is in need of his men more than ever.

The plot has a lot of meat on the bone as I like to say, lots to get to grips with but not so much that you are bombarded with too much info. If anything it was the sheer amount of action and the fast flowing plot that sucked me in.

The Angles are leaving, headed for what they hope is a better future but while the last of them race to get aboard a ship there’s still the chance of attack.

Eofer’s men have great comradery and some very fun conversations which give some light relief at times from all the heavy action.

Spearhafoc, who you may remember from the first installment is back and her story gets dark and complicated, I really enjoyed it but I do hope that her story isn’t over.

What I really liked about this book is the setting. As there’s not a lot of information known about the events it’s given the author the chance to weave a believable tale at times but also exercise his imagination. I want to say more but I don’t want to give away too much of the plot.

For me this is a complex tale, it’s a battle to see which tale is more important, Eofer’s tale or the historical tale. There’s a lot crammed in with this one but it all worked for me. Fun, exciting and it’s left me wanting to get on to the next book in the series quickly.

The action is spot on but varied in such away it doesn’t feel repetitive. We are given raids, full on wars, surprise attacks and you just never know where the author will take you next and that made it all the more exciting to read.

There are a few really emotive scenes also which knock the wind from your sails, this gave another edge to Eofer and for me these moment stole the show, I hope the author throws in more moments like this in book 3.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

Cometh the Hour by Annie Whitehead – Review

Title – Cometh the Hour – (Tales of the Iclingas Book 1)
Author – Annie Whitehead
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 249 Pages
Publication – September 2nd
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

In seventh-century England, a vicious attack sets in motion a war of attrition which will last for generations.
Four kings, connected by blood and marriage, vie for the mantle of overlord. Three affect to rule with divine assistance. The fourth, whose cousin and sister have been mistreated and whose friend has been slaughtered, watches, and waits.
He is a pagan, he is a Mercian, and his name is Penda.
By his side is a woman determined to escape her brutal past. She aids his struggle against his treacherous brother and their alliance founds a dynasty with the potential to end injustice and suppression, if only they can continue to stand together…
A story that spans generations, and travels from Sutton Hoo to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and back to the buried treasure of Staffordshire, this is the first volume of the tales of the Iclingas, the family who ruled Mercia, fighting to avenge their kin and to keep their people free.

Review

I’ve been a fan of Annie’s work for a while, Click to read my reviews of To Be A Queen and Alvar The King Maker if you’ve not seen them already!

Annie is great a weaving a historic tale that much I already know, so this one had to give me something more to top her last effort. I’m glad to say this indeed gave me the oomph I wanted.

What set this book apart from the rest was that it covers a wide period of time and you see events through many different perspectives. This gives you get much fuller picture of events as they flowed from one King to another, you can see how things fit together and overall get a much clearer picture.

This tale really shows that being King wasn’t always the position you’d want to be in, war can breakout at any time, you are constantly watching your back as even your friends might not be as loyal as they say they are and marriage is a political tool and to survive you need to be able to navigate all.

Penda was the biggest draw in the book for me, a lot focuses around him and rightly so, but what I really enjoyed was insights into the man I’ve read about before. I know we don’t know truly what went through people’s heads but we do have a lot of evidence to events that happened and I like how Annie manages to put fact and fiction together in a way that brings life to a historical individual.

What the author gets spot on for me is the flow of the story, effortlessly mixing detailed descriptions of places and people but at the same time never slowing down the pace of the tale.

Religion plays its part in this book and I felt the author depicted this period of transition well, when people changed from worshipping one god to another and highlighted how many would not change their beliefs along with some who would gladly worship anyone as long as it meant they would come out on top.

I’m not going to give away the plot of the tale but it really shows the political nature at the time. Sons are groomed to be King’s while daughters are simply seen as bargaining chips to create power links to other kingdoms.

To sum up, a wonderfully detailed account of the power struggles during the 7th century. There’s a lot of players involved so don’t rush it, take it slow and enjoy. Annie Whitehead has manged to again give me another action packed, engrossing historical read that I highly recommend to all.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

Blog Tour – The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp – Review

 

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp, here’s the blurb –

Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 289 Pages
Publication – 5th September 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

The keeper of family secrets, Patricia Roberts grows up isolated and lonely. Trust no one and you won’t be disappointed is her motto. Three men fall in love with her and she learns to trust, only to find that their agendas are not her own. With secrets concealed from her by the ultimate love of her life, and with her own secret to keep, duplicity and deceit threaten their relationship. In a coming of age story set against the sweeping backdrop of the Second World War – evacuation, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, buzz bombs and secret war work – Patricia ultimately has to decide whether to reveal her deepest held secret for the sake of her future happiness.

Review

The Keeping of Secrets is a coming of age tale that unfolds as World War II erupts.

Now I’m going to start this review off a little differently than usual. I’m going to talk about the end of the story first. I’ll admit stories can really move me at times but this one literally made me shed a tear at the end, I was so racked with emotion. I’m telling you this now as I really want you to know just how moved I was by this one.

The story follows Pat, a young girl on the cusp of womanhood. Set in the backdrop of World War II it really made me consider what it must have been like growing up at that time, being shipped off for your own safety, not knowing if your parents are safe and well.

There’s a lot of emotion in this tale, love and lust high up there. At first Pat needs to fend off an unwanted love interested then when she finds someone she likes he moves a little fast but leaves a lasting impression. Obviously I wasn’t alive at the time but I could really understand the urgency placed on love at the time..the uncertainty..the fear.

Pat is a strong person but she holds her cards close to her chest, she doesn’t open up easily so trust needs to be earned. The most amazing thing about Pat is her determination to have a career rather than settle for being a housewife. It showed the attitudes at the time and how things have changed since.

We follow Pat’s life through the ups and downs, the anxiety and fear everyone must have been feeling so we see her forced to grow up rather quickly.

I’m no lover of romance, I’ve always made that clear but this one is done perfectly as it’s encompassed by the sheer emotion of the time. It’s an historical fiction book about life and love during what would have been a very hard period to live in for all. Wonderfully written, so much so I flew through the book .

Alice Graysharp has given readers a wonderfully emotive tale that will sick with you.

I received a copy of the book for a review but I loved it so much I bought a copy too. My thanks go to Authoright and the author for the chance to be part of the blog tour.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon


Alice has very kindly wrote a piece on the inspiration behind the book, I hope you enjoy it –

alice015

Family History as Inspiration behind The Keeping of Secrets

Until I became closely involved in another family through marriage I thought all families constantly reminisced about past events and long dead relatives in such vivid and immediate terms that you felt somehow you’d been there too or known them personally. I don’t know if my family was unusual, but certainly my childhood was steeped in such reminiscences, often told with humour and irony.

Many were of the Second World War, like the night, following a series of raids, my paternal grandfather (who was a shoe repairer by day and an air raid warden by night) was determined to have a bath, but every time he was about to hop in the siren sounded again and this continued through the night so that he never got his bath after all. I recall my grandparents laughing uproarously as they told the story. Or the time my father dived beneath an armoured vehicle as enemy fighters swooped only to find himself stuck when the raid was over and having to wait for his army mates to jack the vehicle up to release him. Not so amusing, though, was the one of my mother in the dentist’s chair, her close brush with death bringing a chill to the spine.

In 2011 I took my widowed mother to the Spring Meeting of St Martin-in-the-Fields Old Girls’ Association held at the school. Having never been there before I was astonished by the school’s elegant Georgian building and its sense of history. That and driving around the streets of Brixton where my mother grew up brought me a three dimensional  aspect to the past – Acre Lane, Water Lane, Brockwell Park, Tulse Hill, to name but a few places I’d heard of so often, all echoes from my mother’s and my grandparents’ lives experienced vicariously.

Later that year, realising my mother was not getting any older and wanting to capture her stories for all time, over a series of Sunday afternoon visits I took notes as my mother recalled her wartime experiences, which I wrote up as a narrative and which she read and approved for publication. I also wrote the first term’s evacuation experiences as a short fictionalised biography.

In  2015, following my mother’s death, I thought to write a novelised memoir based on these recollections in her honour. However, in adapting the short story and planning out how to move it on to become a full book, I found the main character was proving not to be the same person as my mother but instead a person with a life of her own and her own story to tell. So I moved away from the ‘memoir’ approach and  instead came to regard the information I had amassed rather as source material for a novel. This gave me the opportunity to take the storyline and the characters in it where I felt they would go, my parents’ and grandparents’ recollections being my inspiration rather than my text.

Thus while I have identified the evacuated school St Martin-in-the-Fields and I quoted from the school song, all the teachers and pupils depicted in the novel are the product of my imagination. Further, St Birstan’s school is wholly a figment of my imagination. While my mother’s school was evacuated to Leatherhead, there is no school there by the name of St Birstan’s, not the buildings or the location described, and the St Birstan’s pupils referred to are entirely my invention.

However, I thought the story of the night in the theatre was too good to miss out. When we went to that theatre in the 1980s my mother pointed out the wall against which she had lain, just as in the novel, with her mother outside her and  her father outside them, ‘to protect my virtue.’

The Beaver Club did exist and my grandmother worked there during the War. A poignant reminder remains with my family, a square of lace given to her by a Canadian soldier on leave in late 1944 or early 1945 who had taken pity on one of many starving Belgians lining the roads during the Allied advance desperate to sell anything for food, and bought it from them.

In an era now where oral tradition is virtually lost and many people know little of the generations that went before them, I hope The Keeping of Secrets provides a window into the lives of ordinary people like my mother living through those extraordinary times.

AliceGraysharp_Banner

 

Otho’s Regret by L. J. Trafford – Review

Title – Otho’s Regret
Author – L. J. Trafford
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 469 Pages
Publication – 24th July 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Having spectacularly grabbed the Imperial throne by way of a very bloody coup, new emperor Otho is horrified to discover that there is an emperor already in place. His name is Aulus Vitellius and he is relaxing himself in Germania whilst his two generals, the twisted Valens and the handsome but dim Caecina, march two colossal armies to Rome to claim his prize.

With negotiations between the two emperors becoming ever more entertainingly abusive, imperial secretary Epaphroditus has his work cut out trying to save Otho’s throne for him. Hopelessly outnumbered, all looks doomed until a series of unexpected victories give hope to the beleaguered secretary. With the eastern legions declared for Otho and en route to help, all they have to do is stop Valens’ and Caecina’s armies meeting.

Meanwhile, in Rome, a former palace slave, Antonia Caenis, has returned from Judaea with plans of her own…

Review

Otho’s regret is the third book in The Four Emperors series.

You can read my reviews of book one and two by clicking the links below to open a new window.

Palatine- Book 1

Galba’s Men – Book 2

So after the events of the last book Otho is now emperor. Now while he doesn’t seem to be the most natural at the role he does ooze charisma, he’s fair and likeable which people notice.. the issue is he’s not going to get much of a chance to prove himself.

Persuaded by his generals Vitellius decides he should be Emperor and they set out to take the throne by force if needs be.

Vitellius and his generals have very different reasons for their actions and the author did a great job of breathing life into each of them and developing them as much as she did. The two generals Valens and Caecina have to be my favourite additions to the series so far.

With armies on the march espionage is inevitable with both sides planting spies..the fun twist is there’s more than just two players in this tale…someone is lurking..someone has their own motivations to delay Valens and Caecina but you are kept waiting and wodering as the author builds this suspense keeping you hooked until the end.

One person who has made this series stand out for me is Philo. He’s trying to move on with his life after everything has happened to him.. he’s a little out of the loop with events in the palace but soon gets sucked back in.. he even ends up playing his part in the war that is coming. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ll ever love a character as much as Philo.

Epaphroditus surprised me this time around. I never really fell in love with him until now.. this tale shows a different edge to the character which I really enjoyed.

Trafford effortlessly manages to make the tale light-hearted and fun (especially when Sporus is around) but at the same time develops the uncertainty and fears that are brewing.. Building the suspense so much your heart pounds until everything starts to tumble-down around Otho.

I’ve had high expectations with The Four Emperors series which continues to deliver time and time again. It ticks all the right boxes for historical fiction. It’s descriptive but never too heavy, fun when needed but still deals with the serious side of events.

What Trafford has done superbly is make history fun and exciting with the perfect mix of fact and fiction. It’s books like this that keep my love of reading burning strongly, always stoking the furnace..pushing me further, raising that bar which each installment.

I can’t say I’m an expert.. I just know what I like.. and this book is a shining example of what a 5* star historical fiction book should be in my opinion.

My thanks go to Karnac Books for the uncorrected proof copy for review..This will have pride of place on my book shelf.

You can read more reviews on Goodreads and pre-order your copy of the book today on Amazon or purhcase direct from the publishers Karnac