Friday 7 September 2018

The Harrowing By James Aitcheson


Military / Norman Conquest
11th Century

Five strangers. Five secrets. No refuge. No turning back.

England in the winter of 1069/1070, the new king, William of Normandy, has had enough of the rebellious north and is on the march with his army, determined to destroy everything and anyone who stands in his way. As towns and villages burn, five strangers flee the onslaught, each carrying a personal secret. Forced to band together to survive, and fleeing the invaders’ murderous rampage, they travel to find the last of the English rebels. Each of their secrets are uncovered as they disclose their troubles to one another, leaving them open to judgement; each carrying their own sin.

This book was not, at first, what I thought it would be, but gradually as I read more, I forgot my preconceived ideas, and I was immersed and invested in the characters, good and bad. James Aitcheson is a first-class writer of fiction and an excellent historian. He has put together a story shown through tales within a tale using first person narrative, while in the main text, he uses present tense, adding to the tension, giving it an immediate feel of danger, although at first the switching of tenses and structure took some getting used to, but once immersed the reader follows the tale of these five people sharing the despair, courage, optimism, and defeat with them – until in the end the reader is left feeling a multitude of emotions and wholly satisfied.

Highly recommended

© Paula Wilcox

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