08 April, 2011

Kathleen Herbert and Moon In Leo

Kathleen Herbert wrote three historical novels set in what is now northern England and southern Scotland during the Heroic Age of early medieval Britain (late sixth and early-to-mid seventh century), Bride of the Spear (first published as Lady of the Fountain), Queen of the Lightning and Ghost in the Sunlight. I read them a while ago and liked them very much indeed (all are now out of print, but second-hand copies are reasonably readily available).

Last year, I learned through Sarah Johnson's blog Reading the Past that Kathleen Herbert had written a fourth novel, Moon In Leo, before experiencing ill-health. Her friend Connie Jensen set up an independent publishing company, Trifolium Books, and in February this year Moon In Leo was published as their first title. I bought a copy straight away, and am delighted to find that it's well up to the high standard of the three previous novels (review to come in due course).

Moon In Leo is also set in northern England, in the romantic landscape of the Furness peninsula and Morecambe Bay in South Cumbria - the cover photograph (see above) captures the atmosphere well - but at a completely different time in history, Restoration England in 1678. Here's the back cover copy:

People turned out of their homes; others living rich beyond the dreams of the dispossessed. Science struggling with superstition; celebrity and royalty parading in a public sexual carnival. This love story takes place among the political intrigues and religious hatred of England's age of upheaval between civil war and 'glorious revolution'.

Of the two men in Rosamund Halistan's life, one is a fellow scholar of the occult, the other a wild hedonist with tragic memories. She suspects both of them on attempts on her brother's life and designs on her body and land.

It's harder to find a safe path through the thickets of treason and bigotry than through the rip-tides and quicksands, solid routes and sanctuary in the sands of Morecambe Bay.

More about Trifolium Books and Moon In Leo on the company's blog here.

Map link: Furness


Rick said...

I wonder if it has any oblique links to her earlier books, set in the same region just about 1000 years earlier?

Carla said...

I've spotted one so far :-)

Sarah Johnson said...

My copy just arrived, and I'm looking forward to reading it -- and to your review!

Rick said...

Since I haven't read any of the books, an oblique link would be pretty meaningless to me ... but what is it, anyway?

(Unless it is spoiler-ish.)

Kathryn Warner said...

Great news! I grew up near Morecambe Bay!

Carla said...

Rick - I've found some more now that I've read further. Let's see what I can do without spoilers :-) There's an oblique reference to the story of one of the previous novels, which gets a mention as a folklore tale in this one. The heroine has a dream or vision or illusion that recalls an episode from the first of the earlier novels. Also a religious/mystical theme that turns up in the earlier novels and reappears in this one in a slightly different guise.

Kathryn - In that case you may like to look out for this! The landscape is remarkably vivid, so if you know Furness and the southern Lake District you'll recognise a lot of the places, and the sands of Morecambe Bay are pivotal to the story.

Carla said...

Sarah - I'll look forward to your review too!

Kathryn Warner said...

I've just used the 'search inside' function on Amazon, and right on the first page I can picture exactly where the scene is taking place - oh my, I so have to read this. :-) Thanks for the tip, Carla!

Carla said...

Kathryn - there you go, a book made for you :-) It's like that all the way through; Kathleen Herbert's novels always have a powerful sense of place and Moon In Leo is no exception. If you have friends and family in the area, tell them about it - according to the publisher's site it's available at local bookshops like Suttons in Ulverston, and any bookshop can order it (as well as online retailers). I liked it very much. If you read it, let me know what you think!