A beautiful review – Into the Dark

February 8, 2015 at 3:51 pm (Book reviews, News and updates, With thanks) (, , )

cover_low-resInto the Dark

Serene Conneeley is an Australian author who has captivated many readers with the first two books of her current ‘Into the Mists’ trilogy series. Work on the third and final book will commence in November and be available for release in 2015.

From inSpirit magazine.

Put the kettle on and be ready for a sleepless night or two as the second book of this trilogy is hard to put down.

Carlie travels further into her world of self-discovery and magic as she continues to come to terms with her grief and remapping her future. She is coming to realise she has found her spiritual home as she deepens her connections with her grandmother, her community and a newfound friendship continues to blossom as Carlie and her friend Rhiannon commit to exploring their magical paths together.

cover_2014_11These relationships are challenged however, when Carlie finds herself drawn to love of a different kind – a love she is not ready to share and must keep secret. Frighteningly, a love that parallels echoes of the past, these same echoes that have ultimately defined her grief, present and future. A love that has Carlie making the most difficult choices of her life so far.

The choices that Carlie makes bring forth many twists and turns, more revelations about a past secret that so indelibly defines her life in the present, and a dramatic conclusion that has past and present colliding, leaving the reader reeling with shock, disbelief and wanting so much more.

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A beautiful review – Into the Mists

February 8, 2015 at 3:22 pm (Book reviews, Publishing) (, , )

Cover_Mists_smallInto the Mists

Serene Conneeley is an Australian author who has captivated many readers with the first two books of her current ‘Into the Mists’ trilogy series. Work on the third and final book will commence in November and be available for release in 2015.

From inSpirit magazine.

Carlie, a vibrant teen on the cusp of womanhood and a bright future that she has mapped out for herself, loses all that she treasures in one tragic night.

She is then sent to the other side of the world to live with a relative she never knew existed and, in her mind, must be a terrible person.

cover_2014_11As a reader, you connect deeply with Carlie as she struggles through her grief and tries to come to terms with her new life, so far removed from her old one. In her new life she finds herself stepping in two worlds – the present that is filled with grief, confusion and anger, where all that she thought is not as it seems; the other world is one of ancient magic of the land, where mysteries and secrets of the past are gradually revealed, offering healing and understanding if Carlie can accept them. The mystical energies have Carlie questioning her sanity, however these energies can show her a way through her despair and a chance for family connection and love again, if she chooses.

A captivating read that is nurturing and dramatic, with magic, mystery and ritual woven beautifully throughout.

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A beautiful review of Seven Sacred Sites…

January 23, 2015 at 1:31 am (Book reviews, Magical Places, Sacred Sites, Wheel of the Year) (, , )

So touched by a lovely review for Seven Sacred Sites: Magical Journeys That Will Change Your Life in inSpirit magazine.

Cover_SevenSacredSitesSerene Conneeley’s book Seven Sacred Sites is a powerhouse of memories, ancient knowledge and wisdom, and will take you on a personal journey of discovery.
As you turn through each page in this magical book, Serene paints the landscape as only she can; her pen is the artist’s paintbrush and her words are the scholars of ancient times’ teaching.

As you take a journey around the world exploring Machu Picchu in Peru, monuments of ancient Egypt, Stonehenge, The Camino in Northern Spain, Hawaii, Avalon in England and Uluru in Australia, your soul will refuel itself and leave you wanting to journey there in person. Each site you visit imparts its wisdom, ancient knowledge and traditions upon you. I found myself being drawn back in time, back to truth and beauty when I read this book. From the moment I picked it up my travel plans for the future expanded as I yearned to step foot on the sacred ground.

inSpirit-Healing-Cover-231x300If you are travelling to any of these areas this book is a must, but even if not, this book is perfect for anyone wishing to gain the understanding of forgotten culture and traditions. The history included in the book gives credit to Serene’s meticulous attention to detail, and allows the reader to immerse themselves fully.

Beautiful seems too simple a word to describe this book, yet it describes perfectly all that Serene captures and conveys to the reader as they journey with their mind, body and soul to seven Sacred Sites.

You can read more about Seven Sacred SItes: Magical Journeys That Will Change Your Life at SereneConneeley.com.

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Meet My Character: Book Blog Tour

January 17, 2015 at 11:42 pm (Book reviews, Magic, Publishing, Serene's articles) (, , , , , , )

felicitybookAuthor Felicity Pulman invited me to take part in the Meet My Character Book Tour Blog – you can read my post about Carlie from Into the Mists further down the page, and enter a competition to win a copy of the book at the bottom… My friendship with Felicity began when we bonded over indie publishing a few years ago, and we’ve supported each other through deadline stress and book dramas since then (along with sharing successes and some lighter moments too). I was honoured that Felicity contributed a piece to Witchy Magic, based on her beautiful Janna Mysteries series, and so happy that we could launch our new books together last year, when Felicity unveiled her gripping I, Morgana, and I released Into the Dark.

Pulman_FelicityFelicity’s I, Morgana is a beautifully written story about the legendary Morgana, and she’s also penned A Ring Through Time, The Shalott Trilogy and Ghost Boy. And next week Blood Oath, the first in her new-look medieval crime series The Janna Chronicles will be published, followed by a new book each month until June. Find out more about Felicity and her work at FelicityPulman.com.au, and read my recent interview with her here. And you can check out her Meet My Character post here.

Now it’s my turn to tag two authors – I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading about Dionne and Emma, and also checking out their blogs once they’re up!

dionne_bookI met Sydney writer Dionne Lister last year at Supanova, where we both had stands to launch our new books, and we got to chat again at Book Expo a few months later. She’s the author of the fantasy series Circle of Talia, a coming-of-age story that weaves together magic, adventure and dragons, beginning with the novel Shadows of the Realm, continuing in A Time of Darkness, and concluding with Realm of Blood and Fire.

dionne1Dionne also writes novellas, has released a collection of suspenseful short stories, and is working on her next novel, Little Dove, the first in a new fantasy series. Plus she’s studying for an Associate Degree in Creative Writing, runs the Booktastik website, and co-hosts the Tweep Nation podcast – so I guess I should stop complaining about how busy I am 🙂 To find out more about Dionne and her books, visit her at www.dionnelisterwriter.wordpress.com.

Emma_book_blindsightedI met Emma Hibbs at the online book launch of Into the Mists (which I shared with Selina Fenech, who was launching Hope’s Reign, the second book in her Memory’s Wake Trilogy), where we chatted about faeries and nature and archery and Merida from Brave. We’ve kept in touch since – one of the joys of Facebook is connecting with wonderful people from around the globe – but as Emma lives in north-west England, we haven’t met in the “real” world yet 🙂

EmmaHibbsWriting as EC Hibbs, she is the author of the YA fantasy novel Blindsighted Wanderer and the paranormal romance/thriller Tragic Silence – and she’s already completed books two and three of the latter, and begun a new series. Emma is also a talented artist, which you can check out at her Elphame Arts website, where she does portraits as well as designing gorgeous book covers. Find out more about her at echibbs.weebly.com.

* * * * * * * * * *

Cover_Mists_smallNow to my book character!

What is her name? 

Carlie (named for the goddess Kali) Parker. She’s the main character in Into the Mists and its sequels Into the Dark and Into the Light, and the story is told from her point of view…

Is she a fictional/historical character?

She’s fictional, although many of the rituals she takes part in are based on my experiences, her questioning and scepticism around magic and spirituality echo mine, and she drinks her tea the same way I do, so I guess there is a little of me in her – or her in me… I’m not sure which way that goes 🙂

When and where is the story set?

Carlie is from Sydney Australia, and there are flashbacks to her life there, but most of the story is set in Summer Hill, a small village in south-west England, shrouded in the magical mists that are a character themselves in these books. It’s set in modern times, although I avoided the whole Facebook/iPhone aspects of today, in favour of Carlie being able to connect with the magic of nature and the landscape around her. Summer Hill is a fictional place, but it could perhaps be a parallel universe that sits atop the town of Glastonbury – a different kind of Avalon…

What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?

When we meet Carlie she is seventeen, and on a plane to the other side of the world. Her parents have just been killed in a car accident, and she’s being sent to live with a grandmother she didn’t know existed. She’s devastated, obviously, and angry, and already hates her new guardian – her mum had left England as a teenager, and always told her that her grandmother was dead, so she believes that this woman must be a monster, to have driven her daughter to flee to Australia and break all contact with her.

What should we know about Carlie?

She’s full of grief and loss, which has also made her angry and bitter, and she’s drowning in self-loathing and guilt. She’s angry at her circumstances and at the world, and cynical of anyone she meets – real or magical – that wants to help her. But her journey into the mists becomes a journey into her inner self, and she has the potential to reveal another self, one that’s smart and funny and caring and full of love, if she has the courage to let go of her teenage defiance and the walls she’s built around her.

What is the personal goal of the character?

In the beginning, she doesn’t really have any goals – she’s not even sure she wants to live. She’s so broken by loss – of her whole family as well as her best friend, her home, her school, her whole future life that she had planned out – that she wishes she had the courage to end it. But eventually the darkness recedes a little, and so her goal becomes to get through each day, to start to heal, and to make amends for her own bad behaviour. She also becomes desperate to uncover the secrets of her mother’s younger life, which have left her shattered and unsure of who she really is, and to unlock the mystery of the woman in blue and the cottage within the mists that isn’t always there…

cover_low-resWho is the publisher, and where can we read more about the book? Are there more in the series?

Into the Mists and Into the Dark are published by Blessed Bee Books, and available in print and ebook formats. You can order them through Amazon, your local bookstore or my website, where you can read more about them too. The third book in the trilogy, Into the Light, will be published in May 2015.

There are three copies of Into the Mists to be won. Just leave a comment on this blog post, then email me via my website, SereneConneeley.com, requesting a copy. The first three people to email me with their postal address will win. (*Paperback or ebook copy depending on where you live…)

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Author Spotlight – Felicity Pulman

October 19, 2014 at 12:31 pm (Book reviews, Interesting stories, Interviews) (, , , , )

Pulman_FelicityAustralian author Felicity Pulman’s latest book is I, Morgana, a beautifully written story about King Arthur’s half-sister, a woman loved and loathed in equal measure. Last night she was awarded a fellowship to spend three months in England to write and research the much-anticipated sequel. Just as exciting for readers, a reworked version of her brilliant six-book medieval crime/romance series The Janna Mysteries, about the daughter of a herbwife and healer being trained in the Craft, whose life is turned upside down when her mother is murdered, is being republished from January 2015. Felicity has also penned A Ring Through Time, The Shalott Trilogy, Ghost Boy, The Little Penguins of Manly and more. Read her interview below, and visit her at http://www.felicitypulman.com.au.

felicitybookWhat inspired you to take on Morgana, such a huge presence in literature and legend, and write her story?

My interest in Arthurian legend began when I wrote the Shalott Trilogy, a timeslip ‘rewriting’ of the doom of Elaine of Astolat (the ‘Lady of Shalott’) and Camelot. The legendary ‘wicked witch’ (Morgana) and the ‘jealous bitch’ (Guenevere) fascinated me, and while I went some way towards reclaiming Guenevere’s character in the Shalott trilogy, Morgana continued to haunt me. I was intrigued by how she’s always reviled (in traditional tellings of the legend) as a wicked, scheming ‘witch’ bent on destruction – and yet legend has it that she was one of the queens who took Arthur by boat to the Isle of Avalon to be healed of his wounds after his bloody battle against Mordred at Camlann. Why? To me, this is an act of a contrite and loving sister, completely at odds with the Morgana of the traditional legend. So I decided to rewrite the story from Morgana’s point of view, coming to an understanding of this magically complex, passionate, ambitious, charismatic and deeply flawed woman as I did so. It was a fascinating journey, a journey that will continue in the sequel as I look towards the future and the prophecy, that ‘one day Arthur will return to save Britain in her hour of need’.

[Read my review of I, Morgana…]

Did you learn anything about yourself, or life, while you explored her psyche?

I think all writers invest something of themselves in the characters they create – so yes, it was certainly an exercise in exploring my own dark side! It was also an affirmation of the need to think before you act and also to take responsibility for your actions – a hard-won lesson for Morgana, but also for us all! It was an exploration of ambition, power, the use of magic to get what you want (as in ‘be careful what you wish for!’) and of hate, jealousy and revenge. But it was also an exploration of the love between a man and a woman, and the love of a mother for her child – and the heartache that loving sometimes brings.

Did your research into that time, and that form of spirituality, challenge your beliefs in any way?

I love writing about the Middle Ages, contrasting the splendor and extravagance of the court with the squalor and dirt – and the hard scrabble for life – suffered by the poor. Christianity, of course, was a huge part of everyone’s life at that time, whether secular or within the confines of an abbey or monastery. Both Morgana and Janna spend time in an abbey, and their questioning reflects my own conflicted views and beliefs (which I believe mostly stem from a past-life experience). My head reached a conclusion long ago, but my heart tells me different so, like my characters, I fall back on the notion of a God, but not necessarily a Christian one.

felicity-janna-book1-2Can you give a little update about The Janna Mysteries yet, or is it still a secret?

It’s not a secret, it’s more a work in progress, but I can give you an update of what I know so far. The Janna Mysteries are being reworked for an adult readership, and will be retitled The Janna Chronicles. The originals took plants and herbs as their titles: Rosemary for Remembrance, Rue for Repentance, Lilies for Love, Willows for Weeping, Sage for Sanctuary and Thyme for Trust, reflecting the knowledge of herbs and healing that Janna learned from her mother. The new books will have different titles which focus more on the crimes and mysteries that Janna solves on her quest to find her unknown father in order to fulfil her vow to avenge her mother’s death, and we’re still working on these. The first book will be published by Momentum in January 2015, with the next five books published every month thereafter – so fans of The Janna Mysteries who didn’t manage to get hold of all the books will soon be able to read the whole series within six months, as will a whole lot of new readers!

[Read my reviews of The Janna Mysteries…]

And how is the sequel to I, Morgana going?

The great news is that I’ve just been awarded the inaugural Di Yerbury Writing Fellowship from the Society of Women Writers, which will give me accommodation in the UK for three months of quiet writing time next year, as well as a base from which to do all the research I’ll need to do for the next book (with the working title Return to Camelot.) I am so grateful for this opportunity and already have a growing file of notes that will form the basis of the new book.

What’s your day like in terms of writing?

I don’t have a set schedule, but I do try to do writing-related ‘stuff’ every day – whether it’s being out talking about my books, or conducting writing workshops, or planning for either of those things, or researching what I need to know, or reading historical fiction (my favourite form of research!) or – yes – actually sitting down and WRITING!! Followed, of course, by editing – often accompanied by swearing and consumption of chocolate.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A bit of both. Through mistakes made in the past, I’ve learned that what works for me is to know how the book begins (there are often a few false starts) and also how it ends (although that sometimes changes too). For me, the joy of writing is to dream up the characters and a situation, and then set them in motion and follow their journey towards the end – a journey that often takes unexpected twists and turns because I’ve learned to listen to the voices and visions that sometimes inspire me. Even if I don’t know where they’re taking me, I always find that ultimately it all makes sense and that the story is immeasurably strengthened as a result. So I’m a pantser in that regard – but everyone works differently, so it’s really a matter of finding out what works best for you.

Any tips for people wanting to write a novel?

Lots! You can look at my website to read them all – the writing tips are here. The most important message, I think, would be: if you don’t care passionately about your story and the characters in it, don’t bother to write it.

Are you a tea or coffee person, and how do you take it?

I drink both (with milk and sugar) but in the evening I’d rather have a glass of wine!

 

You can buy I, Morgana in bookstores or from Momentum Books. Keep an eye out there for info on The Janna Chronicles too…

Visit Felicity at her website here, and her blog here.

Read my review of A Ring Through Time.

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Into the Mists book club reviews…

September 30, 2014 at 12:49 pm (Book reviews, News and updates, Publishing) (, , )

Cover_Mists_smallI was so touched to discover that a book club was reading Into the Mists, and blown away when they sent me their beautiful reviews with their orders for Into the Dark… xx
Natasha: We just loved the book as a group, and the general feeling was that it was such a lovely story and it also inspired our love of the sacred arts by reawakening it all. Thank you.
Catherine: Dear Serene, I really enjoyed reading “Into the Mists”. The language that you used in the book made both the story and the larger concepts accessible for the young teenage bracket. It really was wonderful to see a book that looks at the craft as a day to day way of living rather something that is relegated to ritual alone. As an adult well out of my teens it reminded me just how important it is to live life consciously and with awareness. This is definitely a message that I want to pass down to my children.
Your description of a Book of Shadows and its use is one of the best I have come across and truly demystifies the process for those starting out, and for those a little further along the path it is a reminder of the importance of recording the journey so that the same mistakes aren’t made again and so that future generations can benefit from the knowledge and mistakes contained within its pages.
In terms of how you treated the subject of grief, I felt it was handled with delicacy and understanding. I look forward to finding out more as to how the Blue Lady and the tower on the hill factor into the unfolding story.
This is a book that I will be handing to my Daughter in a couple of years time as its introduction to the craft is gentle and not too confronting.
The most important message I took away from this book was that the craft is something we live every day. It is living and breathing and as individual as a fingerprint, while at the same time being about community and belonging.  It was lovely to see it portrayed outside the typical “coven” stereotype.
Thank you for writing this book. I hope it is another step closer to breaking down some of the fear people have about the Craft due to their lack of understanding. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series as you write them and watching your skills as a writer continue to grow. Blessed be.
Christine: I thought it was fun and light and depicted a story line i am sure i have lived before… I connected most to the Grandmothers journey. Looking forward to the next book we read from Serene…..Thank you.
Jodie: I thoroughly enjoyed reading Into The Mist, it reignited the witchy part of myself that had been lying dormant for a few years! The storyline kept my attention and I became emotionally invested in the characters. It was a clear, easy read – simultaneously perfect for teenagers who are taking their first steps into the world of magic as well as more…. mature women such as myself (hahaha!) who have this knowledge but have let it slide a little under the demands and pressures of “real life” (whatever THAT is!). Thank you Serene, for reminding me of who my true, authentic self really is! I look forward to reading the next part of the trilogy!

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Into the Dark – First Reviews

July 17, 2014 at 8:35 pm (Book reviews, News and updates, Publishing) (, , )

cover_low-resThe first few reviews of Into the Dark have been published on Amazon, and I’m so happy that people are loving it… You can see them – or add your own – here… Thank you so much to those who have taken the time to post a review…

5 out of 5 stars A Heartfelt Wondrous Journey into the Dark
Into the Dark is an amazing sequel to Into the Mists. I loved following the journey of Carlie into the dark where I was left to wonder, question and feel her experiences alongside her. The use of various forms of writing such as the beautiful selection of quotes, diary entries and letters added interest and immersion into the story. The charachters were relatable warm and lovable yet unique. The use of factual information about the spiritual path of paganism and magick also makes it an inspiring and valuable source for people who are wanting to learn more about this path. Both Into the Mists and Into the Dark are my favourite novels which have touched my life in ways I cant explain. An amazing story for people of all ages which shows no matter how dark life can get there is still purpose and magick to be found through love.

* * * * *
Into the Dark continues Carlie’s journey towards an understanding of her own heart, a journey that takes her on from the heart-breaking accident in Australia that killed her parents and brought her into the care of her grandmother, Rose, which formed the basis of Serene Conneeley’s first novel for YA, Into the Mists. In Into the Dark, Carlie explores her growing love for her new life and the new people who have come into it, as well as her fascination with magic and ancient folk lore as she draws on the wisdom of her grandmother and also the support of her new friend, Rhiannon. A shaman, Rowan, comes into Carlie’s life, and the spark between them ignites into a love that Carlie is not sure she can trust. As their love deepens, so dark secrets come to light, not least the secret that drove Carlie’s mother from her home so long ago. Should Carlie follow her heart, or listen to Rhiannon’s warning, based on a psychic’s reading of the future? While much darker in content than the previous novel, Into the Dark also portrays the sweetness of love, and the power and fascination of the magical that is so often unacknowledged in our world. As always, the author’s notes at the end are both explanatory and interesting. This is a compelling novel that haunted my dreams while I was reading it!
* * * * *
5 out of 5 stars I adored this book! 
I adored Into the Dark. This is the second book in the series and it certainly doesn’t disappoint! Just like when I read Into the Mist, I was up into the wee hours again, unable to stop reading until I’d made it to the very last page. It was magical to go back into Carly’s world again and to join her once more on her spiritual journey of healing and renewal. This time we witness Carly fall in love and experience all the highs and lows, the uncertainty and fatefulness, of new love. It is beautifully written and a book I will treasure and recommend to all of my friends. LOVED IT!

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Australian Women Writers Challenge Update

July 16, 2014 at 9:20 am (Book reviews, Favourite books) (, , , )

Can’t believe it’s already July. I guess I couldn’t really update my Australian Women Writers Challenge because for the first several months of the year I was on a reading-for-pleasure ban while I finished writing Into the Dark. But that’s over now (for now at least), so over the last week or two I’ve been book-bingeing, and it’s been bliss! Staying up late into the night, snuggling up on the couch on the weekend, reading on the bus to work – and I even took an actual lunch break at my day job and went to a cafe so I could read a bit more 🙂

I read two sweet magical books by UK writer Sarah Painter, The Language of Spells and The Secrets of Ghosts, which I really liked, especially as they’re based around Bath and Avebury (in a sort-of-real-sort-of-made-up village a little like mine)… I found them on Kindle – they might have been suggested to me because I’ve bought (and adore) Sarah Addison Allen books… And I liked Cecelia Ahern‘s novel Love, Rosie, even though I didn’t love the way it was written (no slight on her writing skills, I love her books, it was just an odd/interesting writing style. I still stayed up really late reading it though!)

But I also read a few Aussie authors, not because they are Aussies but because the books looked interesting. So unintentionally I’ll succeed at my Australian Women Writers Challenge for the year 🙂

I really loved Felicity Pulman‘s I, Morgana, a magical tale that offers a new perspective on Morgana and the people of Camelot – you can read my review here

I read The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty, and really loved it too. Modern and set in the real world, but still really compelling. I’ll review it soon…

I bought that one after I read Free-Falling and Paper Chains by her sister Nicola Moriarty – I’d planned to go to a speaking event she was doing in Newtown, and although I didn’t end up making it there on the day, I was still happy I read her books. Which I’ll review for the AWWC too…

(Their other sister Jaclyn Moriarty is also an author, with a string of published books – I figured I should read one of hers too, and realised that I have – she wrote The Spell Book which I read a few years ago… And I just bought Feeling Sorry For Celia – gotta love the instant buying power of a Kindle! – so I can include her in this year’s challenge…

And the other day a Facebook friend mentioned she was reading The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon, and charmed by the name, I looked it up and figured I’d enjoy it. I didn’t even know Josephine was Australian (originally from Brisbane, she now lives on the Sunshine Coast) when I bought it, but I really loved it, and will write a review of it for my challenge soon too…

I’ll eventually get back to working more, but I’m really loving being able to read right now! xx

 

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I, Morgana – A Magical Book…

July 11, 2014 at 2:14 am (Book reviews, Favourite books) (, , , )

felicitybookI, Morgana is a new interpretation of the King Arthur story, and a rich new addition to the much-loved (and hotly debated) canon. Morgana, the daughter of a king, half sister of Arthur and a powerful presence in her own right, has been portrayed in so many different ways over the years, from evil witch to heroine priestess and everything in between, and most readers are invested in their own preferred version. This can make her tricky to bring to life, but Felicity Pulman has succeeded in creating a character and a book that remain true to the myth, while bringing new energy and new perspective to it.

Told from her point of view, this Morgana is closer to the vengeful, ambition-fuelled king’s daughter of TV’s recent Camelot series, determined to take the throne she sees as hers at any cost, than the wise priestess of The Mists of Avalon, whose motivation seemed more about the protection of goddess spirituality against the rising tide of Christianity than her own personal power. But while I have a soft spot for the latter, there is no less magic or complexity in this tale.

Recounted by Morgana as an old woman filled with bitterness and regret, the story opens when she is a child, and she is revealed as clever, loving and strong, aware of her destiny and joyously embracing it. Her relationship with Merlin and their lessons together are a delight to read; her shapeshifting into other creatures beautifully written and evocative. She is a dutiful daughter, who takes her promise to succeed her father on the throne very seriously, and a loving big sister to an infant Arthur. Yet as she grows up she becomes twisted by what she sees as betrayal – by Merlin, by her mother, by her brother, even by the times in which she lives – and is transformed into a ruthless and cruel woman, unleashing chaos as a result of her desperation to rule, and responsible for all the tragedy that befalls both herself and the kingdom. This Morgana is much harder to love and empathise with than other versions of the character – she is selfish, arrogant, hard hearted and vengeful, the sole architect of her own unhappiness – but there are hints that she is not totally beyond redemption, in her love for Launcelot and her children, and her desire to help the mysterious woman she sees in the scrying pool, so in the end she is deeply flawed yet fully realised and compelling.

Felicity Pulman’s first adult novel is ambitious in scope, with new angles to the familiar story, new relationships between familiar characters and new motivations for familiar events, as well as fascinating new twists, such as Morgana’s ability to transport herself to other worlds, the possibility of travelling through time to save the past as well as the future, and a daughter conflicted between magic and religion. It is a beautiful, magical story that sweeps you away into another time and another world, and I was sad when it ended – but I’m very happy that the author has begun work on a sequel…

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Favourite authors…

April 10, 2014 at 9:19 pm (Book reviews, Favourite books) (, , )

gspells_booksA friend posted this challenge on my Facebook wall the other day…

The Rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors (poets included) who’ve influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first 15 you can recall. Tag at least 15 friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what authors my friends choose. To do this, copy this intro and start your list.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten a couple, but here is a start:

Anne Rice, Sarah Addison Allen, Juliet Marillier, Paulo Coelho, Shirley MacLaine, JK Rowling, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Philip Pullman, Joanne Harris, Jorge Amado, Michelle Lovric, Richard Dawkins, OR Melling, Jillian Michaels, Stephenie Meyer, Mitch Albom…

Anne Rice was my favourite author for years and years, and I still adore her books. She writes so vividly and lushly, so poetically, and her characters are so wonderfully flawed and fascinating. Visiting her house in New Orleans was amazing, because it was absolutely the way it was in my head in her amazing Lives of the Mayfair Witches series, and I adored being able to sit in the same cafe as the Vampire Lestat and nurse a cup of coffee like he did…

Sarah Addison Allen is one of my favourite writers now – she writes so beautifully, so magically, and her books are such a joy to fall into…

Juliet Marillier is another favourite, perhaps my very favourite? Her books are so full of magic and mystery, intrigue and history, larger-than-life characters, the Otherworld, the magic of this world, just so beautifully rich and lush and magical…

I adore Paulo Coelho too, The Alchemist was hugely inspiring, and I love so many of his books (although his recent ones haven’t moved me as much, sadly)… Interviewing him was a joy.

Shirley MacLaine made me want to travel to Peru, and was really formative on my inner search many years ago. And while I concede that some of her theories and beliefs are a little too out there for me, I have boundless respect for the way she has challenged people spiritually and pushed our boundaries, and made all kinds of alternative spiritual searching acceptable. She’s certainly a trail blazer…

The Harry Potter series is one of my favourite ever – I love the books and the movies, and the beauty of JK’s writing. I also enjoyed her Casual Vacancy book, in totally different ways to Harry – and admire her greatly for writing what she wants to write after the success of Harry. It would have been easier to continue in her magical world, but she has been brave enough to follow her muse and not care about the response…

The Mists of Avalon is still one of my favourite books – it’s so beautifully written, so magical, and has opened so many people’s eyes to the spirituality and beliefs of pagan England. I love her characters, her championing of a woman who has been so vilified throughout history, and the incredible research she did to create a world that is so totally believable and heart-touching…

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials are also on my favourite books ever list – I love his writing, his characters, his subversive deeper meanings and dark truths. I loved the movie too, and so wish it had done better so there would be more…

I love Joanne Harris’s books like I love Sarah Addison Allen’s – so much magic woven into the stories, so much love and mystery and vivid sight-sound-taste-touch-feeling…

I read some of Jorge Amado’s books when I was in Brasil, which no doubt influenced my adventures there…

Richard Dawkins inspires me so much. I love that he sees so much magic in this world, that he loves the phenomena he describes even more because he understands how it works, like rainbows, and he brings so much passion and joy and enthusiasm to the magic of science that he can’t helpbut inspire others to love it too.

I read Michelle Lovric’s Undrowned Child while researching and writing Mermaid Magic, and adored her Venice and her mermaids, and the other books I’ve read of hers since. 

I read OR Melling’s The Chronicles of Faerie while I was researching and writing Faery Magic, and they were so beautiful, so vivid, so steeped in myth and legend and so deeply touching.

I love Jillian Michaels – she inspires me so much, her workouts had a huge influence on me, and I love her attitude and her advice, both in her podcasts and her books. She kicks butt, she doesn’t believe in excuses, and she’s an incredible motivator.

After I finished writing Seven Sacred Sites, I took a week off and read Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Series, one book after the other, reading all day, staying up half the night, gulping them down all at once. And I loved them. I love the way she writes, her characters, her stories, and the fact that other people hate them means nothing to me – I enjoyed them, and I love the movies, and hats off to her, Twilight was quite the phenomenon…

I still haven’t actually read Tuesdays With Morrie, although I have it, but I absolutely loved Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet In Heaven. Such an amazing premise…

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