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The Siege Winter: A Novel
By Ariana Franklin and Samantha Norman
I recently had the chance to review this historical novel, which is set in 1141 during the English civil war between Empress Matilda and King Stephen. The story is about mystery and murder, and how two ordinary young women get caught up in the fighting and destruction. Ariana Franklin is a well known author of popular historical fiction, and when she died tragically a few years ago she left this manuscript unfinished. Her daughter Samantha Norman finished it and brought it to publication.
As the book starts a peasant girl Emma, is kidnapped by a monk, raped and left for dead. Later an archer, Gwyl, finds her and nurses her back to life. She has no memory of what happened, but she had a scrap of parchment that could be evidence that leads to the monk, so Gwyl is determined to find him and get justice. Meanwhile 15 year old Maud is the owner a small fortress, and she is forced to marry a much older man and gets drawn into the civil war.
The two threads are woven together skillfully. The characters in the book are engaging and distinctive, and the book does an excellent job of really giving you an idea of what life was like in the time period. There is no sugar coating as the hardships and brutality are clearly portrayed, but at the same time it isn’t overly morbid or gruesome. The book is able to show how everyday people were affected by the war between the two monarchs.
Although the book was started by Ariana Franklin and finished by Samantha Norman it is seamlessly integrated, and there are no parts that seem jarring or disconnected. Norman did an excellent job of finishing her mother’s book and fans of Franklin’s previous works will not be disappointed by this one! This is primarily historical fiction with a litte bit of mystery, and makes a great read. The book is scheduled to be released on February 24th, but you can pre-order it on Amazon today.