The Midsummer Wife, Jacqueline Church Simonds

The Midsummer Wife, Jacqueline Church Simonds

The Midsummer Wife (The Heirs to Camelot Book 1)

The Midsummer Wife is the modern outcome of Arthurian intrigue, a story of secretive organisations and hidden heritage culminating in Britain’s salvation. The aftermath of a nuclear terrorist attack on the heart of London has brought Britain to its knees, with the capital shattered and the countryside overrun with refugees.  Ava Cerdwen is the High Priestess of the Goddessian Church, and the woman tasked with bringing the heirs of Merlin and Arthur out of obscurity to heal their shattered country.

Author Jacqueline Church Simonds has pulled together a number of classic threads to weave her tale, with secretive cults of priestesses bringing forwards ancient knowledge to manipulate events, hidden heirs to power reluctantly acknowledging their heritage, and Druidic rites. Fans of Arthurian legend will find this a satisfying read, with a nod to all the right touchpoints, including a planned seduction that goes wildly astray. There are places where the reader relies on Ava’s mental commentary for a lot of the context, and couple of places where one of the protagonists happens to have just exactly the unlikely item required to save the day, but by and large the pacing and the storyline don’t require the help, and the whole forms a very pleasant read.

The Colonel and the Bee, Patrick Canning

The Colonel and the Bee, Patrick Canning

The Colonel and the Bee: A Globe-Trotting Adventure

The Colonel and the Bee is a sunny, swashbuckling adventure of giant hot-air balloons, treasure hunting, and international mystery. From the moment that Bee runs away from her old life as The Amazing Beatrix in a travelling circus and encounters the mysterious and infamous Colonel James Bacchus, she finds herself immersed in the new and the strange on every side, from investigating a bona fide murder in the Netherlands to crossing the Sahara in the Colonel’s amazing flying home.

It’s often easy, when using a very distinctive type of dialect or language, to either get carried away or to start falling out of character. Author Patrick Canning managed to maintain an endearingly old-world form of English without falling into either of these traps, and it made a great addition to the overall atmosphere of the story. While I had the impression that the storyline at times played fast and loose with distance and geography, the book is a highly enjoyable adventure, well-paced and filled with original characters. The Derringer Sisters, an international sisterhood of jilted ex-flames of the Colonel’s, were one of my favourite examples of the humour that makes appearances through the read. There’s enough suspense to keep a reader interested, which is quite a feat as the book is largely very light-hearted. I can’t over-recommend this for anyone looking for a fun adventure read.

The Night Watch, Chris Gerrib

The Night Watch, Chris Gerrib

The Night Watch (The Pirates Trilogy)

The Night Watch is a story of a colonised Mars, under attack by a religious conservative movement from Earth’s USA. With various Earth nations holding independent oversight over various areas of Mars, and law enforcement in Mars space left to a volunteer group in mis-matched, antique ships, Mars looks like a soft target to the entrepreneurs behind the Manifest Destiny movement. The big question is whether or not the disparate interests of Mars can learn to pull together in time to stay free…

Chris Gerrib’s story backdrops benefit from a complete lack of any glamour, giving the settings an air of run-down reality that is one of the strongest elements in the book, and sets it apart from the majority of slick, futuristic sci-fi story settings. Other than that, I found this book a bit hard to really get into. While the principal characters were mostly plausible, the point of view moved frequently from character to character. It didn’t prevent the story as a whole from holding together, but there were a few points where I ended up trying to remember why someone was important and if they’d showed up before. Potentially, narrowing the focus a little might support the overall narrative; it felt a bit scattered at times as I read.

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