Category: Sword & Scorcery

Author Interview | Discussing MacBeth and the way this tale was re-spun through the vision DK Marley had for “A Fire in Winter”

Posted Friday, 16 August, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

Conversations with the Bookish badge created by Jorie in Canva

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I have an exciting interview to share with you today, as the author and I myself are both passionately dedicated to reading Shakespeare! I have appreciated the Bard since I was quite young though it wasn’t until a freshman in high school where I started taking more of an earnest interest in discerning what I was interpreting out of his stories; thus taking on a new role in my life as a Shakespearean reader. From that year til this one, I’ve been dancing through the plays in different formats of exploration – from the plays themselves, of course, but also through adaptations in film, after canon novels and the re-tellings which are re-shaping how we think, feel and understand the original canon of Shakespeare.

What truly implored me towards reading “The Fire of Winter” is wanting to re-step through a lens of insight into both MacBeth and the origin story surrounding Lady MacBeth. It was a play that has been a curiosity for me since I was sixteen and I felt Marley just might be the author who would give me a version of this story which would resolve some of my own questions and curiosities therein whilst giving me a heap of fodder to chew over as a book blogger. I was not wrong on all counts.

This interview is a follow-up to the review I’ve previously disclosed – wherein, you’ll notice through my observations and my readerly takeaways why the writings Marley is giving us are not just wicked good fiction but they are accountable and authentic towards a better understanding of why Shakespeare wrote his stories. She pulls you back into the context of his vision but also, re-represents that vision in a way that you can re-visit the themes, the characters and the settings in a wholly original examinations of those founding stories. For me, it was a way of re-stepping into a door of literature I have loved and finding a refreshing new spin on what I remembered having read.

If you want to settle your reader into the heart of the scene rather immediately after she opens your novel, I think when it comes to opening paragraphs DK Marley takes the ultimate star award for dramatic entrances! Not only do you gather the emotional rooting of this scene – partially built against the purity of rage and anger; as clearly the woman whose allowing men to die by flame and fire isn’t concerned with their dangerous demise but rather, the freedom (or so it appears) their death shall yield to her as a result of their premature deaths. This doesn’t outright surprise me because raids, unexpected coups and power re-alignments were quite common during this particular century as those who wished for power didn’t go about it diplomatically; rather, they plundered it off the lands of others, stole it outright or found ways to circumvent the ethical divides between the ruling class and pirating your destiny out of a world rife with war.

Gruah is a woman caught in a circumstance not of her own choosing – if you follow that thread you’d find she was ready to embrace a life with a man she desired to be with rather than one she was forced to remain enchained. The interesting bit here though is how Marley handles the scene as she doesn’t let us see the remorse of her character (not that I felt she had any to yield) nor does she give her time to apologise for her impulsive actions (again, I didn’t feel that was plausible!) – no, instead, she presents her just as she were – her faults surfacing with malice whilst carrying a gleaming glow of self-satisfaction. This was a woman who knew what she wanted, how she would achieve it and dare anyone to tell her differently. She leaves her mark and her mark is by fire and sword.

As Gruah grows in her hatred towards her newly wed husband forced on her by her father – an exchange of alliance and power; nothing more – she begins to emerge as Lady MacBeth. The woman who would turn her heart to stone if it meant finding her own internal power to eradicate the ills done against her – as you find her plotting her revenges even as she takes her first steps into her new marriage. Of course, she is already “MacBeth” in both honour and declared love; married to Lord MacBeth in secret and yet, secreted from that truth due to the alignment of strife to overtake her father’s and the King’s wishes on her behalf. I was curious about what changed the woman’s right to choose her own spouse – as it was mentioned briefly that they used to be able to make those choices outside the purview of the men; where their own destiny was once their own and not owned by others who did as they willed whether or not it was consented or accepted. In that regard, there are a lot of contemporary issues for women’s rights penetrating through MacBeth’s struggle to find the right action to fuse with her words; as her wrath was always spoken but its the actions she needs to take which take longer to formulate.

Marley has written an historical novel rife with conflict and the secrets which never stay in the past but which re-rise in the future when they are meant to be known. Her Lady MacBeth is a woman who is attempting to right the wrongs against her by taking action as an adult when she couldn’t act as a child. It is a story of redemption but also, of self-sacrifice as in this version of MacBeth you understand better what anchoured her to the darker roots of her faith and how the Earthen Spirituality she shared with her Mum was the only grounding foundation she had to battle against the horrors of her youth.

Marley also broaches the current topics of women’s rights, domestic violence against women and the suffering hours of being victims of sexual violence as children. She moves instinctively through the actions of the present and counters it with the recollected memories of the past to where you can overlay the past with the present and understand how everyone is on this collision course to where fate, life and death are interchanging their roles. It is a story that is fuelled by revenge but it is also a story of injustice and the purity of true love which seeks to rise through the ashes and lay claim to the purity of how love when it is freely given is a freedom of its own.

It is a hard novel to read in many regards because of how it descends and rises through the pacing of the play – including the fall of madness in Lord MacBeth. There is violence yes, as these are not people who opt for diplomacy to solve their problems, they’d rather take to the sword and see who is the better of combatants than to use talk to diffuse their differences. There are scenes which are hard to read just due to what they involve but at the heart of the novel is the life of MacBeth; both the husband and the wife. You get to re-examine what motivated them, what sparked the love between them and what ultimately drove them apart – you see those moments they shared together and how they perceived of their future by secret plotting.

The most powerful part of the story is the conclusion – where Lady MacBeth has a final say about what is meant to be remembered about herself. In that confession, you peer close to her soul and her heart; you see into her the truthfulness of her actions and the ways in which she felt she had to act in order to secure her own destiny. The difficulties of those choices however had consequences that do not wait to rest on a mind hardened by the actions of a woman who was aflame with murderous intentions to accomplish the deeds she first felt would define her and secure her future. You had to contemplate if she had the option to re-live it, what would she choose and what would she change; if anything? Or was it all pre-destined and her life lived out just as it was meant?

-quoted from my review of The Fire of Winter

As you embark on reading this conversation, be sure to have brewed your favourite cuppa and get ready to get your Shakespeare on as we discuss the components of this re-telling of MacBeth whilst also discussing why Marley has a firm passion for re-visiting other plays and how she is re-envisioning the canon of Shakespeare as a whole! I hope you enjoy where our convo led us and perhaps, you’ll find a renewal of interest in these stories as much as I have myself!

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Author Interview | Discussing MacBeth and the way this tale was re-spun through the vision DK Marley had for “A Fire in Winter”The Fire of Winter (Interview)
by D.K. Marley
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

She is known as Lady Macbeth.
What leads her down the path of murder?
What secrets fire her destiny?

Gruah, granddaughter of King Cìnéad III of the Royal Clan Alpin, marries two men in less than six months, one she loves and one she hates; one in secret, the other arranged by the High King of Scotland. At the age of eighteen, she lays her palm upon the ancient stone of Scone and sees her destiny as Queen of Scotland, and she vows to do whatever necessary to see her true love, Macbeth macFindlaech, beside her on the throne.

Amid the fiery times and heated onslaughts from Denmark and England, as the rule of Scotland hangs in the balance, Gruah seeks to win the throne and bring revenge upon the monsters of her childhood, no matter the cost or amount of blood tainting her own hands; yet, an unexpected meeting with the King called the Confessor causes her to question her bloody path and doubt her once blazing pagan faith. Will she find redemption or has the blood of her past fire-branded her soul?

The story weaves the play by William Shakespeare with the actual history of Macbeth and his Queen in 11th-century Scotland.

“…a woman’s story at a winter’s fire…”
(Macbeth, Act III, Scene IV)

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1724914965

Also by this author: The Fire of Winter

Genres: After Canons, Classical Literature, Historical Fiction, Historical-Fantasy, Re-telling &/or Sequel


Published by White Rabbit Publishing

on 1st June, 2019

Pages: 355

Published by: White Rabbit Publishing

Converse via: #HistoricalFiction, #HistFic or #HistNov
as well as #Shakespearean and #MacBeth

Available Formats: Hardcover, Trade paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

As “The Fire of Winter” goes into the heart of who Lord and Lady MacBeth were as their lives were being lived – what was your inspiration towards wanting to use the play and their story as a catalyst to explore the fuller background of this century through the drama of what their lives became?

Marley responds: I am a true Shakespeare-lover! Since the time I was eleven and my grandmother gave me her college textbook “The Complete Works of Shakespeare”, I was hooked. I am currently attempting to adapt all the plays into historical fiction novels, so Macbeth was the second on my list. My first adaptation is “Prince of Sorrows” which is Hamlet set in 9th-century Denmark. Read More

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Posted Friday, 16 August, 2019 by jorielov in 11th Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, After the Canon, Anglo-Saxon History, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book for University Study, Bookish Discussions, Britian, Cosy Horror, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, England, Good vs. Evil, Heroic Bloodshed, Heroic Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Literature for Boys, Men's Fiction, Military Fiction, Re-Told Tales, Realistic Fiction, Self-Published Author, Spin-Off Authors, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Superstitions & Old World Beliefs, Sword & Scorcery, Vulgarity in Literature, Warfare & Power Realignment

#SaturdaysAreBookish Book Review | “The Fire of Winter” by D.K. Marley a unique spin re-delving into the canon of “MacBeth”!

Posted Saturday, 10 August, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

#SaturdaysAreBookish created by Jorie in Canva.

After launching this lovely new feature of mine during [Autumn, 2018] it is a pleasure of joy to continue to bring #SaturdaysAreBookish as a compliment focus of my Twitter chat @SatBookChat. If you see the chat icon at the top of my blog (header bar) you can click over to visit with us. The complimentary showcases on my blog will reflect the diversity of stories, authors and publishers I would be featuring on the chat itself. As at the root and heart of the chat are the stories I am reading which compliment the conversations.

#SaturdaysAreBookish throughout [2019] will be featuring the Romance & Women’s Fiction authors I am discovering to read across genre and point of interest. Every Saturday will feature a different author who writes either Romance or Women’s Fiction – the stories I am reading might simply inspire the topics in the forthcoming chats or they might be directly connected to the current guest author.

I am excited about where new guests and new stories will lay down the foundation of inspiring the topics, the conversations and the bookish recommendations towards promoting Romance & Women’s Fiction. Here’s a lovely New Year full of new authors and their stories to celebrate!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By:

I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring.

It has been a wicked fantastical journey into the heart of the historic past, wherein I’ve been blessed truly by discovering new timescapes, new living realities of the persons who once lived (ie. Biographical Historical Fiction) inasmuch as itched my healthy appetite for Cosy Historical Mysteries! If there is a #HistRom out there it is generally a beloved favourite and I love soaking into a wicked wonderful work of Historical Fiction where you feel the beauty of the historic world, the depth of the characters and the joyfulness in which the historical novelists brought everything to light in such a lovingly diverse palette of portraiture of the eras we become time travellers through their stories.

I received a complimentary of “The Fire of Winter” direct from the author D.K. Marley, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

On why this story appealled to me & how I arrived inside the chapters:

I have a short history involving MacBeth – as it was the play of choice for seniors who took a year to study Shakespeare whilst I was in high school whilst it was also the subject of an after canon re-telling audiobook I previously reviewed. I didn’t get to study the Bard in school but I did get to help the seniors pass their exams as a sophomore who only read one full page layout of the play and intuited enough from that layout to take them through their exams. The conversation that led afterwards with their teacher is one of my fondest memories as she couldn’t quite sort out how they all came to the same conclusions and yet didn’t have an entry point in their defended statements of how they arrived at those answers. Smiles. Sometimes school can surprise you and beat the droll-drums.

Similarly, to my readings of “Sign of the White Foal” – I had plans to do a sequencing of reading ahead of diving into “The Fire of Winter”: I had planned to read two Non-Fiction releases – Wisdom of the Middle Ages & Wisdom of the Renaissance – whilst I wanted to dig back into “The Lost Queen” as well – to have this lovely immersion experience in cross-relating stories and subjects of interest. *However!* – instead my week was wrecked by plumbers, a migraine & more life woes than a girl can shake a stick at in apt frustration! Be as it were – I had to reschedule my review & the interview I am hosting with this author in order to give myself a bit of time to rest & cover the energies I needed to properly read the novel.

When you haven’t a way of reaching your books & your blog, you just have to hope and pray the hours you have after the chaos recedes allows you enough serenity to ‘catch up’ and find the blissitude you had before the chaos overtook your readerly hours! At least, this is how I re-directed my heart and mind as I read “The Fire of Winter” in the early morning hours of Saturday as a chase-up to posting my review before lunch was ready to serve.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

#SaturdaysAreBookish Book Review | “The Fire of Winter” by D.K. Marley a unique spin re-delving into the canon of “MacBeth”!The Fire of Winter
by D.K. Marley
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

She is known as Lady Macbeth.
What leads her down the path of murder?
What secrets fire her destiny?

Gruah, granddaughter of King Cìnéad III of the Royal Clan Alpin, marries two men in less than six months, one she loves and one she hates; one in secret, the other arranged by the High King of Scotland. At the age of eighteen, she lays her palm upon the ancient stone of Scone and sees her destiny as Queen of Scotland, and she vows to do whatever necessary to see her true love, Macbeth macFindlaech, beside her on the throne.

Amid the fiery times and heated onslaughts from Denmark and England, as the rule of Scotland hangs in the balance, Gruah seeks to win the throne and bring revenge upon the monsters of her childhood, no matter the cost or amount of blood tainting her own hands; yet, an unexpected meeting with the King called the Confessor causes her to question her bloody path and doubt her once blazing pagan faith. Will she find redemption or has the blood of her past fire-branded her soul?

The story weaves the play by William Shakespeare with the actual history of Macbeth and his Queen in 11th-century Scotland.

“…a woman’s story at a winter’s fire…”
(Macbeth, Act III, Scene IV)

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1724914965

Also by this author: The Fire of Winter (Interview)

Genres: After Canons, Classical Literature, Historical Fiction, Historical-Fantasy, Re-telling &/or Sequel


Published by White Rabbit Publishing

on 1st June, 2019

Format: POD | Print On Demand Paperback

Pages: 355

Published by: White Rabbit Publishing

Converse via: #HistoricalFiction, #HistFic or #HistNov
as well as #Shakespearean and #MacBeth

Available Formats: Hardcover, Trade paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

About D.K. Marley

DK Marley

D. K. Marley is a historical fiction writer specializing in Shakespearean themes. Her grandmother, an English Literature teacher, gave her a volume of Shakespeare’s plays when she was eleven, inspiring DK to delve further into the rich Elizabethan language.

Eleven years ago she began the research leading to the publication of her first novel “Blood and Ink,” an epic tale of lost dreams, spurned love, jealousy and deception in Tudor England as the two men, William Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, fight for one name and the famous works now known as the Shakespeare Folio.

She is an avid Shakespearean / Marlowan, a member of the Marlowe Society, the Shakespeare Fellowship and a signer of the Declaration of Intent for the Shakespeare Authorship Debate. She has traveled to England three times for intensive research and debate workshops and is a graduate of the intense training workshop “The Writer’s Retreat Workshop” founded by Gary Provost and hosted by Jason Sitzes. She lives in Georgia with her husband and a Scottish Terriers named Maggie and Buster.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Saturday, 10 August, 2019 by jorielov in #SaturdaysAreBookish, 11th Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, After the Canon, Anglo-Saxon History, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book for University Study, Bookish Discussions, Britian, Cosy Horror, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, England, Good vs. Evil, Heroic Bloodshed, Heroic Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Literature for Boys, Men's Fiction, Military Fiction, Re-Told Tales, Realistic Fiction, Self-Published Author, Spin-Off Authors, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Superstitions & Old World Beliefs, Sword & Scorcery, Vulgarity in Literature, Warfare & Power Realignment

Blog Book Tour | “Sign of the White Foal” (Book One: Arthur of the Cymry Trilogy) by Chris Thorndycroft

Posted Friday, 2 August, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , 2 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By:

I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring.

It has been a wicked fantastical journey into the heart of the historic past, wherein I’ve been blessed truly by discovering new timescapes, new living realities of the persons who once lived (ie. Biographical Historical Fiction) inasmuch as itched my healthy appetite for Cosy Historical Mysteries! If there is a #HistRom out there it is generally a beloved favourite and I love soaking into a wicked wonderful work of Historical Fiction where you feel the beauty of the historic world, the depth of the characters and the joyfulness in which the historical novelists brought everything to light in such a lovingly diverse palette of portraiture of the eras we become time travellers through their stories.

I received a complimentary of “Sign of the White Foal” direct from the author Chris Thorndycroft, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

On why this story appealled to me & how I arrived inside the chapters:

You might remember how consumed I was by the story-telling and historical narrative arc within the Guinevere Tales trilogy by Nicole Evelina? This was the first chance I had to pull myself into the folds of a well-thought out exploration of the Arthurian myth & canon – wherein, I found a wicked intense focus on Guinevere herself, the foundations of Avalon’s history and the curious ways a writer can pull you through a Historical Fantasy series wherein you’re not just captivated by their research for these fabled characters and heroes of the ancient times in our timeline but you feel more anchoured to a part of history which isn’t oft discussed or explored.

As I had such an emotional connection to Evelina’s trilogy, I waited until after I had concluded reading it before I began to read more stories set in, round or next door to her time periods. There is another Historical trilogy I am re-reading late Summer, early Autumn this year – as the first novel released last year; “The Lost Queen” runs parallel to my interests in this timescape. Thus, when I saw “Sign of the White Foal” was touring, I was equally delighted and excited to see how this author would treat the subject and the persons he’s populated within his story.

It is lovely how for each author who stimulates a historical portal to the past, there are others who can pick up from whence we left off with one author and continue our quest to move in and out of periods of history which fascinate our imaginations.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

I had planned to read two Non-Fiction releases before sharing my review for “Sign of the White Foal” – Wisdom of the Middle Ages & Wisdom of the Renaissance – whilst I wanted to dig back into “The Lost Queen” as well – to have this lovely immersion experience in cross-relating stories and subjects of interest. *However!* – instead my week was wrecked by plumbers, a migraine & more life woes than a girl can shake a stick at in apt frustration! Thereby, my review which I had thought was due on Friday, was in effect, meant to arrive on Thursday but it wasn’t til Thursday night I honestly could curl back inside “Sign of the White Foal” and bring this review to my readers!

When you haven’t a way of reaching your books & your blog, you just have to hope and pray the hours you have after the chaos recedes allows you enough serenity to ‘catch up’ and find the blissitude you had before the chaos overtook your readerly hours! At least, this is how I re-directed my heart and mind as I dipped back into reading this late Thursday night and early Friday morning!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Blog Book Tour | “Sign of the White Foal” (Book One: Arthur of the Cymry Trilogy) by Chris ThorndycroftSign of the White Foal
Subtitle: Book One in the Arthur of the Cymry Trilogy
by Chris Thorndycroft
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

A generation after Hengest and Horsa carved out a kingdom in the east, a hero of the Britons rises in the west…

480 A.D. The sons of Cunedag have ruled Venedotia for fifty years but the chief of them – the Pendraig – is now dying. His sons Cadwallon and Owain must fight to retain their birthright from their envious cousins. As civil war consumes Venedotia, Arthur – a young warrior and bastard son of the Pendraig – is sent on a perilous quest that will determine the fate of the kingdom.

The Morgens; nine priestesses of the Mother Goddess have found the cauldron of rebirth – a symbol of otherworldly power – and have allied themselves with the enemy. Arthur and six companions are dispatched to the mysterious island of Ynys Mon to steal the cauldron and break the power of the Morgens. Along the way they run into the formidable Guenhuifar whose family have been stewards of Ynys Mon for generations. They need her help. The trouble is, Guenhuifar despises Arthur’s family and all they stand for…

Based on the earliest Arthurian legends, Sign of the White Foal is a rip-roaring adventure of Celtic myth and real history set in the ruins of post-Roman Britain.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781099698132

Also by this author: Sign of the White Foal (Interview)

Also in this series: Sign of the White Foal (Interview)


Genres: After Canons, Arthurian Legend, Historical Fiction, Re-telling &/or Sequel


Published by Self Published Author

on 1st July, 2019

Format: POD | Print On Demand Paperback

Pages: 311

This novel is self-published

Converse via: #HistoricalFiction, #HistFic or #HistNov
as well as #Avalon and #Arthurian

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

About Chris Thorndycroft

Chris Thorndycroft

Chris Thorndycroft is a British writer of historical fiction, horror and fantasy. His early short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies such as Dark Moon Digest and American Nightmare. His first novel under his own name was A Brother’s Oath; the first book in the Hengest and Horsa Trilogy. He also writes under the pseudonym P. J. Thorndyke.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Friday, 2 August, 2019 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 5th Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, After the Canon, Anglo-Saxon History, Arthurian Legend, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book for University Study, Bookish Discussions, Britian, Coming-Of Age, Cosy Horror, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, England, Genre-bender, Good vs. Evil, Heroic Bloodshed, Heroic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, JLAS Update Post, Literary Fiction, Literature for Boys, Men's Fiction, Military Fiction, Mother-Son Relationships, Orphans & Guardians, Re-Told Tales, Realistic Fiction, Self-Published Author, Siblings, Spin-Off Authors, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Supernatural Fiction, Superstitions & Old World Beliefs, Sword & Scorcery, Vulgarity in Literature, Warfare & Power Realignment

From #blogmas to #WyrdAndWonder | #JorieReads the Ravenwood Saga by Morgan L. Busse – “Mark of the Raven” (book one) & “Flight of the Raven (book two) whilst delving into #INSPYFantasy for the first time!

Posted Friday, 31 May, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , 5 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By:  I’ve been hosting for Prism Book Tours since September of 2017 – having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. As I enquired about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors when I’m not showcasing book reviews on behalf of Harlequin Heartwarming which has become my second favourite imprint of Harlequin next to my beloved #LoveINSPIRED Suspense. I am also keenly happy PRISM hosts a variety of Indie Authors and INSPY Fiction novelists.

Previously I hosted a series of special posts attached to #blogmas featuring Fantasy novelists I was eagerly looking forward to seeking out throughout [2019]. I was hoping to read one of them for #WyrdAndWonder which is why when I saw one of the authors on my #mustread shortlist, I jumped at the chance to join the blog tour! My spot for the tour was on the final day for #WyrdAndWonder and it felt like a good fit at the time. This was prior to the 4x migraines which altered how I could read and blog this May; but overall, I was still celebrating the fact I could receive the first book “Mark of the Raven” alongside the book for the blog tour “Flight of the Raven”. This is also marking my first attempt to read #INSPYFantasy of this nature and I looked forward to what I would find inside the story-line as I wanted to see how an INSPY novelist might approach this kind of portal and epic fantastical tale!

I received complimentary copies of “Mark of the Raven” and “Flight of the Raven” direct from the publisher Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Celebrating a new interest in #INSPY #Fantasy this
#WyrdAndWonder from a #blogmas selection!

As you may or may not recall – I first featured this saga during my #blogmas series of posts last December wherein I had a chance to seek out #newtomeauthors by showcasing their series & books in a series of featured posts wherein I had the delightful joy in getting to know a bit about their characters, their world-building and/or their writerly styles of approach within the Fantasy genre I love to read! The interesting bit though is how a lot of those selections were actually within the sub-niche of #INSPYFantasy! Something I haven’t readily explored in the past and was delighted in finding such a strong pull towards seeking out these kinds of authors as previously I had mostly focused on Indie Authors and/or Self Pub authors who were writing the kinds of fantastical reads I dearly wanted to be exploring!

In case you might not have been with me during #blogmas let me recap what my thoughts were in December to give you a good impression of how I was celebrating this new interest of mine:

I am LOVING the art direction of today’s Fantasy market! I love artwork which pulls you into the world-building – gives you something to chew and contemplate and before you realise it, you already want to be living in that world – isn’t this the case for you? I oft wonder what allures readers to read Fantasy & Science Fiction – strictly the artwork or the synopsis or a mixture of both? For me, every story starts with a keen interest in the premise & what I shall find inside the pages,.. the artwork for me is the icing on the cupcake if I love reading the novel!

Ever since I started co-hosting #WyrdAndWonder (an annual Fantasy event with mini-events throughout the year) I’ve become more mindful of Fantasy as a niche I dearly want to explore further, as I only had a fleeting sense of what was available in the past. This month I’ll be reading one of my favourite Science Fiction novelists whose written an epic Fantasy series – a series I’ve been trying to read for the past few years and felt life constantly was pulling me out of its pages. As I knew #FantasyForChristmas was nearing – I felt by celebrating new worlds of Fantasy would be the best anchour towards reading more Fantasy this December!

I was also inspired when I first started reading A Mortal Song during last month’s #Mythothon – wherein I was happily charmed by what I discovered when Japanese Mythos and Fantasy are entwined!

This particular series I am showcasing today is about redemptive conscience – as there is an heir to a legacy not of the choosing of the heir but of the family she’s been bourne. There is a moral and ethical dilemma to her inheritance and as you read the synopsis from book one to book two you can sort of start to see where the lines are drawn for her and her family. Stories of individual quests in worlds of Fantasy are amongst my favourites but what is interesting of course, is this a second selection under the umbrella of Christian Fantasy. It would be interesting how this ties into the theme but also, how it reflects the crisis within the lead character for not wanting to make a choice that goes against her own beliefs.

Curious – which other stories in Fantasy reflect this kind of quest and what did you appreciate about those narratives the most?!

Now, as we fast forward into May – imagine my heart of gratitude having *both!* novels within this saga on my shelf to read & disappear inside before the closing hours of #WyrdAndWonder! I was wicked excited the day they arrived – as it felt like I had come full circle since #blogmas to find one of the authors I could read not just for the event I was eagerly co-hosting *but!* of finding myself able to read an author I had spotlighted & featured within six months of that feature running on Jorie Loves A Story! I have been wanting to be more proactive in reading the authors I’m spotlighting within six or twelvemonths as a way forward in the future rather than waiting a select number of years before I can ‘meet’ their stories as they say!

I wonder if anyone else whose been participating with #WyrdAndWonder has disappeared into this niche of focus themselves? Or, if like me it is a new thread of exploration!? Afterall, I love INSPY Lit – I just never realised they had such a healthy assortment of #FantasyReads!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

From #blogmas to #WyrdAndWonder | #JorieReads the Ravenwood Saga by Morgan L. Busse – “Mark of the Raven” (book one) & “Flight of the Raven (book two) whilst delving into #INSPYFantasy for the first time!Mark of the Raven
Subtitle: The Ravenwood Saga
by Morgan L. Busse
Source: Publisher via Prism Book Tours

Lady Selene is the heir to the Great House of Ravenwood and the secret family gift of dreamwalking. As a dreamwalker, she can enter a person’s dreams and manipulate their greatest fears or desires. For the last hundred years, the Ravenwood women have used their gift of dreaming for hire to gather information or to assassinate.

As she discovers her family’s dark secret, Selene is torn between upholding her family’s legacy–a legacy that supports her people–or seeking the true reason behind her family’s gift.

Her dilemma comes to a head when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations, but who will also bring about the downfall of her own house.

One path holds glory and power, and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and execution. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780764232220

Also by this author: Book Spotlight: Ravenwood Saga

Also in this series: Book Spotlight: Ravenwood Saga


Genres: Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Historical-Fantasy, Dark Fantasy


Published by Bethany House Publishers

on 6th November, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 352

Published by: Bethany House Publishers (@bethany_house)

an imprint of Baker Publishing Group

Formats Available: Hardback, Trade paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

my review of mark of the raven:

Selene and her sister Amara have a long history of rivalry between them – it is etched into how they interact with each other and how seething in anger Amara had been by the priest’s gesture on behalf of Selene during a ceremony with a priest who seemed to have moved in and out of trace without his own recognition of the event. It is in that moment where Selene was given only one subtle hinting towards what might yet become true for her – the presence of the Dark Lady would visit with her and thus, starts the Mark of the Raven.

Nothing short of oppressive expectation was placed on Selene’s shoulders – from what you gather of her mother’s reaction to her gifting. In this world, there is a break-down of gifts passed through different generations – each particular ‘house’ then is given a different talent of power. Selene was bourne into the Ravenwood lineage and their particular gift is that of ‘dreamers’. What was keenly interesting to me is in the front pages of the novel, we’re not just blessed with a map of the world but with a firm break-down of which house and family is given which gift! Further interesting is when it was revealled Selene has a tattooed birthmark of a raven on her back – a visual etching which did not appear to be the norm but rather the exception.

As Busse walked us through the procedure for achieving your gift in this world – your heart went out empathetically to Selene for it is not a passage of rightful inheritance without its merciless agony! Not only the fact it is a painful transformation for the person undergoing the alteration from an internal and external experience but it foretells a bit about how this world is only in balance when everything works towards rising through the ancestral lines of prophecy. You can readily see why Selene wants to push back against her rite of passage – the uncertainties of what is expected of her and the unknowns regarding her particular talent are what are bolting her to consider thoughts of exodus the women of her ancestral line may or may not have considered previously.

It is hard to decipher who was on pins more – Selene or myself as she was about to embark on her first dreamwalk! I sensed this is not a gift to take lightly nor was it one Lady Ravenwood had explained to the depth of what really occurs when a person enters another person’s dreamscape – in essence, I felt there was a flickering of distrust in what her mother would require her to do and thereby, it would become a marked moment in Selene’s life – to choose the destiny she was given or to walk a different path. At least this would be the soul searching choice I would undertake – as just as I suspected her dreamwalking destiny is not exactly what Selene might have forethought it would entail; if anything, it might be the opposite of what she intended it to encompass! And, therein of course lies the truer drama behind this story – how does a girl who newly inherits an ancestral gift sort out her own feelings about what that gift truly means to both her family and the people they oversee?

The historical aesthetic of this world reminded me of my readings of the Guinevere Tale trilogy – where ancient magic and conflict of war embattled Guinevere’s soul to the brink of where she nearly lost herself for the will of prophecy. Part of me saw a bit of Guinevere’s internal conflict arching into Selene’s own worried conscience – it is hard to embrace a gift you were given if after you’ve received it the war begins with yourself. However, back to the historical overlays – as this is set within a historic setting with the scope of detail I love from Historical Fiction, you immediately connect to Rook Castle. Even the name eludes to the Ravenwood women’s line of connection to the corvid they embody – it is quite the setting to explore – from the labyrinth corridors and the hidden passages which hold secrets of their own. Just to walk alongside Selene as she traverses her own home and the niches of solitude she attempts to seek out from it is a blessing.

It is quite chilling – this dreamwalking gift Selene has – as she’s forced to do her mother’s bidding – inflicting pain and terror into the people she felt they were meant to be protective of in their care (first the gardener, than a servant of her mother’s) she drew closer to understanding how twisted this gift could become if it continued to be used for nefarious purposes such as her mother was eluding her to believe. Yet, you rally behind Selene because she is of an independent mind – she is seeking the truth behind the legend of the gifting but also, the truer legacy of what being a dreamwalker was meant to entail all along. Sometimes it is best to walk backwards into the past – to see what came before you in order to better understand your purpose in the present; this is what I felt Selene was attempting to do. She didn’t have the knowledge of the past but she yearned to find it – to collect knowledge about the dreamwalkers but also the other Houses of this world where the darkness was strikingly real and where the evils of fate were clawing their way into her own spirit. She was a fighter but how long would the will to fight stay within her own soul?

Three sisters are entwined to this legacy of Ravenwood House – Selene, as a first bourne has the privilege or curse (if you will) of finding out the secrets their mother has kept from them first – however, her middle sister Amara is curiously adamant to follow in her footsteps as quickly as she can without the realisation of what that fever of intention would mean for her own conscience to either accept or reject. Their youngest sister Ophie is the more innocent of the three – perceived to be a mute, her innocence is full of the lightness the other two sisters do not own of themselves. They are too closely connected to their mother’s indoctrinated routines and thereby are walking closer to the shadows than their younger sister would feel comfortable within herself. It is a curious overlay to the story – how three sisters can grow in the same house and yet be remarkably different from one another from the inside out.

What is most gutting is the insurrection of Selene’s own soul – she is struggling to rectify the purpose of her family against her own will as a sentient being being crushed against a tidalwave of injustice stemming from her mother’s twisted sense of righteousness. There is a moment where you feel compelled to pause your readings of Mark of the Raven because of what is implied within one of the dreamscapes – it is the one affecting Renata, the maid Selene never wanted to interfere with through her dreams because of the closeness she feels towards her as a friend. If the two could be considered friends as there is a hierarchy in place within this world. Although the details of the girl’s attack is not graphically depicted it is hinted at in such a way as to give you the strong impression of what happened and why it happened when it did – thus, giving more gravity to the dreamwalking gift Selene is burdened with by her ancestral lineage. What is further wrecking is how Selene reacts to why her mother wanted her enter this girl’s dreamscape and what happens after she does – it is an awakening moment for Selene, one which re-shifts the power within her family but also draws a considerable line of absolutes for herself. You give her credit for finding courage out of chaos but the main concern I had reading this particular passage is the lack of control Selene experienced whilst attempting to right the wrongs of the past.

Grand Lord Damien has a conscience in-line with Selene – he is from the House of Maris (known as the Waters) wherein his gift is tied directly to the element of Water whilst his gift is as powerful as Selene he isn’t as accustomed to the strength it will wield if he chooses to use it. They share quite a heap in common on that front – each of them is burdened with a legacy not of their choosing and with a powerful evocation of that talent within them that they cannot always control. It speaks to the harder question about the world at large and how each of these Houses have their own issues with their own legacies. There is a hinting of war and a further disassociation with their lineage if they are to draw together rather than remain apart – as his entrance into the story reveals a few secreted truths thus left unknown.

What I enjoyed about this first installment is the foundation it set for the series – how we are gathering glimpses of the brewing war between the Houses and seeing the differences between what rules the Light and what rules through the Dark Lady. It is a series about the choices we make whilst we’re walking our path and the choices thrust upon us through unforeseen adversity. The path is always a clear one for each person to make – if you are honest with yourself, you can see the ways in which your path must align. That doesn’t mean to say there isn’t a darkness within this world (as there is) but it does mean the people in this world have a free will of their own to choose which path they desire to walk. In that, Busse has written a series which mirrors real life and the choices everyone must choose for themselves.

on the fantastical writing style of morgan l. busse:

When it comes to High Fantasy (ie. Epic Fantasy), Portal Fantasy and Quest Fantasy – I almost could presume to realise that Ms Busse was about to encompass everything I love from this triple threat of fantastical worlds due to how she places you inside her world. It isn’t just the fact this world feels older than the initial pages you’ve read, it is how she has chosen to let her characters peer at us from their regular habits – they are living their life and we’re observing their life from the outside. I love when writers have this authentic nature about their world-building to where you feel like you’ve slipped the veil and have re-emerged elsewhere; settling into a step with characters you dearly want to know more about and a world which although slightly curious round the edges has its own share of darkness.

Busse does a wonderful job of building the suspenseful arc surrounding the Ravenwood women’s predestined gifting – she has granted the reader an introspective viewing of what happens when you are not willing to blindly accept your fate but rather, with a thoughtful concern for what that fate might imply against your own better nature – to examine it and to sort out where your own allegiances lie within the sphere of the world you were bourne.

She makes you compelled to read the story if only to see where each of the characters are going to take their own stands because this isn’t a fate that you would wish upon yourself or anyone else. It is a question of morality and ethics, too – of what you might be willing to do for the sake of your family but if it goes against an inherent belief of yours? If it crosses that line in the sand where your conscience cannot justify the means of the gift – what do you do then? Its a good plotting to think over and to turn round on yourself whilst your examining the will of Busse’s characters to do the same even if they previously had just succumbed to what they were pushed to do.

Notations of being an #INSPYFantasy with realistic undertones:

This story deals with a lot of different themes and topics – from physical violence against women to the implications of manipulating people’s dreams whilst they are in REM sleep. The key elements of the story of course are threading through a lens of INSPY narrative – wherein you know the story is anchoured through a prism of light rather than the darkness afflicting its nature onto the characters as they each must choose which destiny they will either accept, refute or alter given the course of their own conscience choice in the matter affecting their lineage legacies.

You have to seek out the patterns of inspiration to see how this is an INSPY Fantasy novel as it has the markings of a traditional Quest and High Fantasy story arc – wherein the main question permeating through the novel is what choices will Selene make now that her destiny’s out in the open and the layers of its reach are known to her and her mother? It is not overtly INSPY in that there are distinct cross-overlays between Christianity and this fantastical world – there is a hint and a nod towards religion but it isn’t omnipresent in the narrative itself. Except for the concept of the soul and the journey of the soul – wherein is the most spirituality you’ll see as you walk through the story itself.

It is more of a thinking novel about the concepts of spirituality and the concepts of living against your moral fibre as a sentient being who has the conscience walk of the soul within you. The greatest battle of course is between the Dark Lady and the Light – of which you can draw your own conclusions about whom their representing and I loved Busse for giving readers that option of choice.

Having said that – there are realistic undertones of darkness and darker influences of behaviour running concurrent to the journey Selene and her sisters are being forced to walk. Their legacy of dreamwalking (and I would suspect others who are gifted in other ways, too) has become corroded against the good and embraced by the darker forces which seek to destroy the light – this is something that speaks volumes about how Busse has developed her world as it isn’t outwardly discussed per se but you can acknowledge the fight for these forces all the same.

Fantastical Elements:

→ Dreamwalking | Dreamwalkers (ie. Dreamers)

→ Shapeshifting

→ Inherited Gifts per each ancestral House (ie. Dreamers, Waters, Fire and Earth, Wisdom, Healing, Light and Courage)

→ Souls and their innate energies (loved the visual differences between good/evil)

As we are peering into this world through Selene’s journey as a dreamwalker – it is her gift we are first presented with understanding. The concept behind dreamwalking is a clever one but it has a hardened and twisted view of right and wrong; wherein the choice to sustain oneself in this world is brokered against the will of others who are not giving consent to what a dreamwalker can gain out of their dreams.

Part of the gift of dreamwalking is the controlling aspect of what that gift involves – where you can either influence a person to dream or to re-direct their focus towards the nightmares which live off their innermost fears – it is a crucial choice for dreamers to inflict emotion on those they entreat inside – it also a measure of ethics to will yourself to cause such influence and to become hardened against the choices therein.

One of the more beautiful visuals within the series is how the soul is represented. It was by far one of my favourite passages within Mark of the Raven and a critical glimpse I felt of where the writer’s impression on the story was centrally focused.

It is within the dreamscapes where the Ravenwood women can shapeshift – having read a lovely and beautiful collection of short stories featuring corvids – I can attest to how Busse has chosen to write about her chosen corvid the raven as being not only accurate towards their nature but it is the right choice of which bird the Ravenwood women should use as shifters.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

From #blogmas to #WyrdAndWonder | #JorieReads the Ravenwood Saga by Morgan L. Busse – “Mark of the Raven” (book one) & “Flight of the Raven (book two) whilst delving into #INSPYFantasy for the first time!Flight of the Raven
Subtitle: The Ravenwood Saga
by Morgan L. Busse
Source: Publisher via Prism Book Tours

Selene Ravenwood, once the heir to House Ravenwood, is now an exile. On the run and free of her family's destiny, Selene hopes to find the real reason her family was given the gift of dreamwalking. But first she must adapt to her new life as wife to Lord Damien Maris, the man she was originally assigned to kill. 

While adjusting to her marriage and her home in the north, her power over dreams begins to grow. As the strongest dreamwalker to exist in ages, her expanding power attracts not only nightmares but the attention of the Dark Lady herself.

With a war looming on the horizon and a wicked being after her gift, Selene is faced with a choice: embrace the Dark Lady's offer, or search out the one who gave her the gift of dreamwalking. One path offers power, the other offers freedom. But time is running out, and soon her choice will be made for her.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780764234125

Also by this author: Book Spotlight: Ravenwood Saga

Series: Ravenwood Saga


Also in this series: Book Spotlight: Ravenwood Saga


Genres: Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, High Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Historical-Fantasy, Dark Fantasy


Published by Bethany House Publishers

on 30th April, 2019

Pages: 352

Published by: Bethany House Publishers (@bethany_house)

an imprint of Baker Publishing Group

Formats Available: Hardback, Trade paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Ravenwood Saga:

I am in LOVE with the cover art for this series!

Mark of the Raven by Morgan BusseFlight of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse

Mark of the Raven (book one)

Flight of the Raven (book two)

→ *forthcoming next* : Cry of the Raven (book three) → February, 2020!

Converse via: #RavenwoodSaga, #FantasyNerd or #EpicFantasy
as well as #INSPYFantasy + #WyrdAndWonder

About Morgan L. Busse

Morgan Busse

Morgan L. Busse is a writer by day and a mother by night. She is the author of the Follower of the Word series, the Carol Award-winning steampunk series, Soul Chronicles, and the Ravenwood Saga, a new fantasy series from Bethany House coming November 2018. During her spare time she enjoys playing games, taking long walks, and dreaming about her next novel.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Friday, 31 May, 2019 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Light vs Dark, Prism Book Tours, Siblings, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Supernatural Fiction, Sword & Scorcery