- File Size: 3023 KB
- Print Length: 272 pages
- Publisher: Strange Fictions Press (June 24, 2018)
- Publication Date: June 24, 2018
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07D9Z18B8
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,177,473 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Midsummer Wife: Book One of The Heirs to Camelot Series Kindle Edition
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The Midsummer Wife is a dystopian sci-fi Arthurian romance. Yup. All of those. A nuclear blast has devastated London, taking the royalty and the government with it, and a shattered Britain is left to pick up the pieces - even as its citizens scramble to leave on the next boat or plane.
Into this are plunged the descendants of King Arthur and Merlin, along with the heir of an ancient priestess, Ava, who is crucial to hopes of defeating ancient foe Morgaine and her cultists and hopefully reunite Britain.
The opening chapter of this book may be one of the best openings I've read in a long time. It's taut, pacy, and introduces us to an assured and determined Ava. Except that's just a mask - in truth, she's beset by anxiety and agoraphobia, a fractured soul trying to hide her weaknesses because she knows the fate of the country, perhaps the world, rests on her shoulders.
It's fantastic to have a more complex character at the heart of the story rather than a perfect, infallible hero - and that's before she finds herself driven by impulses more ancient than she knows to form a bond with... the wrong man?
Perhaps... as only turning the pages will reveal.
This book is a little more saucy than my usual reading fare, but that's no knock on the book itself, just a note that you can expect shirt-ripping and gasping ahead.
I was delighted to be surprised by this book, and to be left wanting more by the time I turned the last page.
An essential backstory is built up during the first half of the book. It is a very complex history, based on the Arthurian legend of England, and is revealed sometimes in large sweeps of exposition, which tend to slow the pace. Events from the distant past are shown to carry a vital influence into the ruined present, offering salvation for the future; and a conflict, begun fifteen hundred years earlier between the forces of good and evil, returns.
Most of the characters are strong and fully rounded. The central character is particularly well developed. She possesses knowledge and experience which will lead to a new world order. But at the same time she is altogether human, and helps the other players to reconcile their individual pasts with their contemporary experiences.
Perhaps the narrative gives too much space to the arcane aspect of the storyline, at the expense of action. But this is the nature of the book. In its well-controlled progress, it reveals the potential for a new spirituality following an apocalyptic event, and tends to stimulate the reader’s own speculative ability. One may not be hooked in by a high level of tension, but one is drawn consistently onwards as a series of powerful happenings unfolds.
The main point of conflict arrives towards the end of the book, bringing with it a higher level of energy, and action takes over. But it is worth the wait; and the careful preparation throughout the rest of the book is shown to be a very natural and well-regulated progression to a rather surprising dénouement.
“The Midsummer Wife” is a novel where the known facts of the Arthurian legend are brought into a modern-day fantasy setting in a unique and completely convincing manner. It is an enjoyable book, recommended to a wide range of readers.
In sixth century Britain, Anya charges her three offspring - Falcon fathered by Merlin, Stephen fathered by King Arthur, and her daughter Arianrhod - to guard the respective rites, relics and heritage of Merlin, Arthur and of the Goddess until the Day Foretold. Almost 1500 years later, in 2029, the nuclear annihilation of London and essentially all its leadership devastates Britain. With Midsummer almost here, the day fortold is fast approaching and Ava Cerdwn, high-priestess of the Goddess, ancestor of Arianrhod, and leader of the sacred Sisterhood, must convince the Merlin and Arthur heirs, Duke Drunemerton (Harper) and Lord Steadbye (Ron), of who she is and that the time has come to step forward and heal the land. Each of the heirs struggle with grief and mental demons. And an ancient and implacable enemy will stop at nothing to thwart their and the Goddess' plans.
The first one third of the book is heavy with set-up, backstory and long conversations and looking at ancient relics as Ava seeks to establish her credentials with both Harper (the Merlin heir) and Ron (the Arthur heir). Harper's distrust and Ava falling for the 'wrong' guy sets up some tension, but these are quickly resolved. The story momentum speeds up as the trio encounter murderous opposition and the final one third kept the pages turning with a cliff-hanger ending.
I did wonder about some of the historical 'facts' (for instance, Arthur's son Stephen arrives in Jerusalem during the Persian Muslim takeover in 636 AD and then takes a bride from Anatolia on the way home 97 years after he was born and 51 years after he died); or the heirs produce elaborate, detailed 'sixth century' tapestries, whereas even in the 12 century wasn't that advanced in this art form. Eleven years into our future, the Goddess religion is well established with only passing mention given to over 1500 years of Christianity in Britain. Even so, Simonds has built up a rich world of myth and legend which values 'a gentle love-centred power', peace and healing. The personal backstory/demons and their doubts and fears add to the portrayal of the characters and I did like how Ava's overcoming of her acrophobia and PTSD was portrayed.
Overall, interesting setting and complex, rich characters in fresh look at the legendary once-and-future king.
Top international reviews
For lovers of detail, we are given a lot of information about the history of the legend and the powers behind it, dictated by the characters. For those who like a ‘spicy’ read, there are also, what I would classify as, some fairly explicit sex scenes.
The author has a—what I call—young style of writing which did not appeal to me (but I’m old). This was exemplified by the repetitious overuse of exclamation; there was barely a page without several shouting at me. I also came away with a feeling that description of environment was lacking and the backdrop of a destroyed country and its people to a great extent ignored, which seems strange as the characters’ goal is all about saving them.
This book was an easy to absorb and comprehend and promises an exciting start to a series for all those engaged by this first instalment. Definitely recommend trying it out to see if it suits.
Two caveats on an otherwise excellent read. First, because much of the story involves fulfilling a prophecy, the characters sometimes felt passive, waiting for the next piece to slot into place. Second, the way the supporting cast respond to the crisis, particularly those in government(s), didn’t ring quite true, for me.
That said, the characters are engaging, the pacing, world building and mythology are all otherwise terrific, and if I hadn’t expected some of the racier moments, they certainly didn’t detract from the story. The book is a fascinating exercise in contradiction – the Britain on show is somehow both romanticised and apocalyptic, the scale is huge, yet intimate, the atmosphere is dark, yet handled with a light touch. If this sounds like your kind of thing, then The Midsummer Wife comes strongly recommended.