As she has been waiting the longest – sorry PJ! I’ll post my review of Freya’s Child by P J Roscoe, first.
Here’s my review: FREYA’S CHILD by P J Roscoe
This is not one of my usual reads, but I enjoyed it, particularly the beautifully poetic language at the beginning.
A village massacre in Viking times. A present-day archaeological dig at the site of the massacre, the lead archaeologist of which, Kathryn, has been suffering terrible recurring nightmares. And a married couple – Robert and Helen — whose marriage is in a bad way after Robert’s neglect and obsession with his career and then his mental breakdown, cause simmering resentments in Helen. These are the separate elements of the story. All three strands come together when the warring couple move to the husband’s home town in the Wirral, the location of the dig site, in the hope of salvaging their shattered marriage.
But soon their marriage comes under other pressures. Charlotte (‘Cherry’) their small daughter, starts talking to imaginary friends; friends who turn out to be not so imaginary and not so friendly, after all. A visit by the married couple to the archaeological site with their little daughter renews Robert’s friendship with Tony, his boyhood friend.
Strange, spooky and frightening events happen at the site of the dig and at the home of Helen and Robert, our married pair. The lead archaeologist, Kathryn, has been suffering terrible nightmares since long before the dig; since childhood, in fact. She has a burning need to get in contact with the past – her past –and expunge it, or the nightmares will never end. But the dig has suffered fierce local opposition, led by a forceful character named Mr Merton. A string of criminal acts occur, including theft and murder. The continuation of the dig is in danger and with it Kathryn’s hope of ridding herself of her nightmares.
Charlotte’s inexplicable collapse after visiting the dig and touching a rune stone, brings the archaeologists’ support and help when the child is hospitalised suffering from the sudden onset of a coma-like illness. The doctors can’t understand what has caused this illness and, even after conducting various tests, seem unable to do anything about it. Helen, Charlotte’s mother, sure, in her heart, that her child needs to be rescued from the past and those who are determined to keep her to compensate for the loss of their own child during that long-ago massacre, is convinced the only hope for Charlotte is for them to go back to the dig site and conduct certain rituals.
The climax comes during a desperate attempt to drag the child out of her coma and near-death situation, when present and long-distant past come together in an exciting finale.
Apart from a few typos and the unusual line spacing in the paperback — neither of which detracted from the story — I found this an expertly told tale. The transition from times past to times present and back again were smoothly-handled. I found the characters believable and their actions thoroughly understandable — what wouldn’t a parent do to save their child?.
Recommended. Four stars (it would have been five but for the typos and the choice of line-spacing, both of which should be addressed in any follow-up edition).
A tale of good and evil convincingly told. FOUR STARS
REVIEW: TIME TELLS by Jan Woodhouse
This was an interesting psychological novel. It delved deeply into relationships, motivations and the lingering effect that our upbringing has on us. It was filled with undercurrents, subtle and not-so-subtle.
Even though this isn’t normally the kind of book I read, I found myself intrigued as I got deeper into the story and more involved in the lives of the characters and the power one person can have over another and how the power of suggestion, repeated often enough, can mean the suggestion is retained in the subconscious until, one day, we act on it.
It was a little sinister in places and the way the author delved into the character’s motivations and thought processes hinted at autobiographical themes.
I thought that the motivation for the character Lizzie to act as she did towards the end of the book didn’t quite ring true. I felt it needed more fore-shadowing and that Lizzie needed to be a weaker and less grounded personality for her to do what she did. But, that said, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.
Jan Woodhouse is clearly a very talented author with a mastery over the English language that meant the story really flowed for me. I read it in just over a day and when I finished it I knew that this novel revealed an author who is a real writer. A very talented lady and a book – but for that slightly jarring note about Lizzie towards the end and the unexpected, abrupt, ending itself – that would have fully earned five stars.
Well-written, engaging and intriguing in its treatment of relationships and the undercurrents that run through everyday life. Highly recommended. FOUR STARS