Tuesday, 19 April 2016

10/10 and a new cover design for In the Moors

A big thanks to Deborah Riccio's Wordbird Blogsite for a thoughtful and amazing review of the first of the Shaman Mysteries - In the Moors. 

Deborah writes: 

Never having had dealings with a Shaman in my life, in my head they’ve always been a kind of witchy-pagan-flowing maxi dress-with-beads-and-flowered headdress-wearing hippy-type person who goes around humming and hugging trees and chatting to woodland creatures.  Because it’s a nice thing to do and wouldn’t we all do it if we could get away with it?
So I was more than a little happy to discover that our heroine, Sabbie Dare, is – although a little like my fluffy idea – a proper down-to-earth completely accessible human being with worries and hang ups and urges and no aversion to profanities and my goodness I warmed to her. Immediately.
Having had In the Moors in her bookcase for 2 years before reading it (something I often do as well), she awarded it 10/10, descrbing the first Shaman Mystery as fast-paced, believable and totally absorbing. Even better, she's designed the book a new cover as well…taking her design from the descriptions of Brokeltuft Cottage, which Sabbie Dare first visits in a shamanic journey:

 The overhanging branches met above my head, winter bare and black. The lane was so gloomy, I had to peer to make out the silhouette of a cottage against the cloud-covered sky.
I knew we were close to the grim little room where I’d seen the sack of hair. I willed myself towards the building until I was standing outside a door, the sort of door country dwellings had in the olden days, with wide, ornate hinges, rusting at their edges. The door was peeling its black paint and smeared with mud as if someone had kicked at it. The name of the house was prominently displayed on an iron plate. ‘Brokeltuft Cottage’.
I put my hand on the round knob of the iron handle. It was as cold as a summer drink. When I turned it, I heard the clang of a latch lifting inside. The door swung open. Carpetless wooden stairs rose up before me. A passageway led past them, into a kitchen that hadn’t been replaced since the fifties. I could see the gas cooker, and the kettle steaming on its hob. 
“What…what shall I do, Trendle?”
“Go on.” The otter lay along my arm. His coat still dripped from the journey, although I felt bone dry. His voice was in my head. “We have to put fear to one side and probe this world, if we want answers.” He twitched his whiskers and water drops flew from them.
Step by step I advanced along the passage. I remembered the menacing presence standing close behind me in the little room with the sack of hair. Would I find that presence in the kitchen? The whistle of the kettle became shrill. A girl stepped out of the shadows and switched off the gas.
“Want a cuppa?” she asked me.
I almost sobbed with relief.

Later, she finds the cottage deep in Somerset countryside, and in this excerpt, tries to find a way in:

          The black paint of the front door was entirely gone. The iron nameplate was missing, the screw-holes where it had once lived torn and rotting. It looked as if it might crumble if I touched it. Although touch it was the last thing I wanted to do. 
I walked up the short front path. I laid my gloved hand in the centre of the door and pushed. It was not locked or bolted from inside. It screeched over a stone tiled floor then stopped. I leaned my shoulder on it, then my back against it, but the gap, just enough for me to get my hand round, would widen no further. I put an eye to the opening. I could see grey light, like a fog that hangs around in abandoned places.
Some time ago, someone had come here with planks and nails and a pot of paint. The downstairs windows had been boarded up and the words DANGER – KEEP OUT painted across the boarding. Whatever was in the way of the front door must have been there at that time, as they hadn’t bothered to board that up. I stared at the words for a moment or two, waiting to see how they affected the more rule-abiding side of my nature, then shrugged and traced the path around the side of the house.
I had to scrunch through a wasteland wilderness. Brambles were the predominant feature, but the thorns couldn’t get a purchase on my coat – it was like wearing steel plating. The high swathes of nettles had more success. They seemed to lean forward and deliberately brush the thin sliver of skin that showed between my coat cuffs and my gloves. I stuffed my hands in my pockets and took steady step by steady step. A smell of fungus rose as I walked, as if the pathway had become mouldy with lack of use.

I turned the corner of the house. I was in the back garden. I pushed through the thigh-high weeds until I reached an ancient back door. You could see the plank work in it. This door did not budge at all. It was bolted from the inside.

What a nice surprise; a great review of the first in the series, three years after it was published. I do hope Deborah enjoys the rest of the Shaman Mysteries. In the meantime, I thoroughly recommend her blogsite Wordbird, which has many great pages to browse, including her book reviews and the fascinating Memory Mondays! You can read the complete review, check out her version of the cover and surf the Wordbird blogsite by clicking here;  Deborah Riccio's review of In the Moors 

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