Friday, 30 June 2017

Book Review: Sleeper's Castle by Barbara Erskine

Sleeper's Castle
by Barbara Erskine

5 Stars


Two women, centuries apart. One endless nightmare tearing Wales apart – and only they can stop it.

Sunday Times bestselling author Barbara Erskine returns to Hay in the year that marks the 30th anniversary of her sensational debut bestseller, Lady of Hay.

Hay-On-Wye, 1400 – War is brewing in the Welsh borders, Catrin is on the brink of womanhood and falling in love for the first time. Her father is a soothsayer, playing a dangerous game playing on the mixed loyalties and furious rivalries between welsh princes and English lords. For two hundred years, the Welsh people have lain under the English yoke, dreaming of independence. And finally it looks as though the charismatic Owain Glyndwr may be the man legend talks of. In the walls of Sleeper’s Castle, Catrin finds herself caught in the middle of a doomed war as she is called upon to foretell Wales’s destiny… And what she sees, is blood and war coming closer…

Hay, 2015. Miranda has moved to Sleeper’s Castle to escape and grieve. Slowly she feels herself coming to life in the solitude of the mountains. But every time she closes her eyes her dreams become more vivid. And she makes a connection with a young girl, who’s screaming, who’s reaching out… who only Miranda can help. Is she losing herself to time?

Review 5 Stars

Grief-stricken after the sudden death of her partner, Andy(Miranda) she is also suddenly homeless. Graham's estranged wife is suddenly back on the scene and is adamant that Graham never made a new will and so everything comes to her, as Rhona and Graham hadn't yet divorced.

Sue, her friend, needs someone to house sit at her cottage, Sleeper's Castle in Wales, so at least Andy now has a roof over her head. Getting away from Rhona is an added bonus. And that's when things really start to get strange, for Sleeper's Castle had once been home to a dreamer, a bard who slept to see the future in their dreams. And then Andy too starts to have experiences that can't be explained.

I was a bit wary at starting this new Barbara Erskine book, as I was a little disappointed in the last one I read by her. But the cover and blurb intrigued me so I bought it.

And I am really glad I did. This is much more reminiscent of her earlier writing and Lady of Hay is one of my favourite books of all time. Like most of Ms. Erskine's books, the plot has two intertwined tales, one in the present and one in the past.

Is Andy seeing ghosts? Or is she really glimpsing the world through the eyes of a young woman centuries in the past?

It's a good tale, there's mystery, suspense, romance and hints of the paranormal. In a less skilled hand, Rhona might have come off as a one-dimensional villain, but she has depths. She is well-drawn, as are all the characters. Everyone has layers that are revealed as the book goes on. At first I hated her for the things she was doing to Andy, but as I read on, I started to feel a bit sorry for her. She had lost so much, even though it was through her own mistakes.

And it was also good that Graham wasn't painted as a saint, even though he was dead.

I'm torn between which parts of the book I liked best. I loved the modern stuff but I also loved the stuff when we go back to Catrin's time. And anything that mentioned bards, whether ancient or modern. The book has been well-researched, that is obvious, but it doesn't overtake the tale. There's enough there to whet any historical appetite without overshadowing the story.

Fantastic, imaginative read. Ms. Erskine is back on form.

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