Amid all the recent mayhem, I had to “pass” on publishing reviews of a couple of novels I really enjoyed and publish other material instead, but I really did want to catch up later. Through necessity, my “catch up” reviews will be a bit shorter than usual – today I start dismantling 62 years of “home” to help my mother move to a retirement development nearer me (which we’re both happy about – and her new home is gorgeous). But reviews are so important to authors, and I really must get those outstanding ones recorded and onto the sites that really matter.
And I really didn’t want to miss out on reviewing Christina Courtenay’s The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight because – as I mentioned in my earlier feature – I’m a big fan of her time slip writing, and this one was excellent. You can read other reviews of her time slip novels here on Being Anne – The Silent Touch of Shadows, The Secret Kiss of Darkness AND The Soft Whisper of Dreams (just click on the hyperlinks). And this lovely book – published by Choc Lit on 6th October in paperback and for kindle – was every bit as enjoyable.
As the velvet cloak of moonlight settled over the ruined towers of Raglan Castle, the shadows beneath them stirred …
When newly widowed Tess visits Raglan Castle, she experiences an extraordinary vision that transports her to seventeenth-century Wales and a castle on the brink of a siege.
Even when Tess leaves Raglan to return to Merrick Court, her late husband’s home, the strange dreams continue as her life becomes increasingly intertwined with the past. And when the new owner of the estate arrives – New Zealander Josh Owens – the parallels become even more obvious.
But perhaps the visions aren’t just trying to tell their own story, maybe they’re also giving a warning…
There’s a real art to writing a good time slip story, and Christina Courtenay always gets it absolutely right. There need to be two equally strong stories to capture your attention and imagination and both stories here certainly engage. In both timelines, there must be strong characters that you believe in and care about. I loved Tess and Josh’s modern story – the first steps of their relationship, the other local characters, Tess’ horrendous sister, lovely nephew Louis, the menacing Marcus, Vincent the dog – but equally enjoyed the historical story of Rhys and Arabella set against its vividly drawn and meticulously researched historical background. And the shifts between the two stories – in this book, through the medium of shifting water, very well done – need to seem plausible and natural, and these most certainly are. I really enjoyed the ghostly edge to this book too – nothing uncomfortable, the natural appearance of ghostly figures in houses and gardens, often with a touch of gentle humour. The book’s strong sense of place and history is remarkable – Raglan Castle and Merrick Court, past and present, are vividly depicted. Beautifully written, I really enjoyed this book – if you’re a time slip fan, or just enjoy two strong romantic stories that sweep you away, I’d really recommend this one.