A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan ~ #HistFic #Crime with a supernatural thread @WilliamRyan_ @BonnierZaffre #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: W.C. Ryan

Published: October 2018 by Zaffre

Category: Historical Fiction, Murder, Crime, Mystery, Espionage, Supernatural, Book Review

Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives.

At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.

A House of Ghosts is primarily a tale of espionage during the height of WW1, with a dark and atmospheric supernatural thread.

Continue reading

Guest Post from #author Dr Vivien Newman @worldwarwomen ~ Extraordinary #Women #WW1 #History #SundayBlogShare

Don’t ask a woman her age … and expect the truth

That boys lied about their ages to enlist in 1914 is common knowledge.  Less well known is that women did too.  This blog features two unusual women who felt age was no bar to ‘doing their bit’.

Under age munitions worker Mabel Lethbridge

Under age munitions worker Mabel Lethbridge

In 1917, Mabel Lethbridge was desperate to become a ‘mutionette’ and work in the Danger Sheds where highly explosive materials were handled; the minimum age was 18.  A rebellious teenager, she was accepted at 7 National Filling Factory at Hayes Common.  On her way to work on her first morning, she rather dismissed the comments of a woman in the bus queue who, hearing Mabel’s destination, comfortingly confided, this was “one of them terrible places … twelve months come Christmas I lost my eldest … all blowed to bits she was … we never got her body home.”

In Mabel’s Shed, dangers extended beyond high explosives.  The machinery they were using to fill shells with amatol had been condemned over a year ago; replacements had arrived but were not yet operational.  Soon disaster struck,

A dull flash, a deafening roar and I felt myself being hurled through the air, falling down, down into the darkness.  A blinding flash and I felt my body being torn asunder.  Darkness, that terrifying darkness, and the agonised cries of the workers pierced my consciousness.  (Mabel Lethbridge Fortune’s Grass) Continue reading

The Running Boy

  • IMG_2382Author: Joel Toombs
  • Published: December 2014 by Joel Toombs Publishing
  • Category: Young Adult, Historical
  • three-half-stars

 

Against the cruel backdrop of scenes no man should have to face, The Running Boy picks out glimmers of what every young man must face, weaving masterful threads of hope and redemption between the carnage and brokenness of the First World War.

Many thanks to Joel for sending me a copy for review purposes.

Howie Lambert and his friends, Freddy and Polly, live in the coastal town of Whitby, Yorkshire, with the moors, cliffs and the ruins of St Hilda’s Abbey as their playground. Howie is a quiet boy who likes reading and writing poetry. He’s vulnerable and introspective, which is not helped by his father’s stern and disciplinarian attitude.  

‘If granddad used the belt and father turned out this way then maybe belts should be kept for trousers’.

The first real change to Howie’s relatively carefree younger years comes with the threat of war and his brother joining the army. Howie is sixteen in 1914 when Whitby is attacked by German warships and Freddy’s house, along with others in the street, are destroyed. Freddy’s mother is caught in the blast. Freddy fuels his grief with anger against the Germans and determines to enlist in the army, talking Howie into joining with him. Polly, eager to escape her abusive uncle, grabs her chance to leave with the boys. The friends are separated on their way to France and Howie is alone on his journey into the unknown.

The story follows Howie’s journey to France and the unimaginable horrors he finds there. Terrified and longing for home he faces the ordeals of war along with the end of his boyhood. Witnessing the fighting and being ordered to do things no-one should ever have to face, much less a boy, Howie has to grow up quickly. His feelings and thoughts are dealt with sympathetically. The scenes on the battlefields and in the trenches are described in convincing detail, made all the worse because of their truth. 

Pops had sat there in the smelly slurry of the trench floor for half an hour rocking gently with Chipper still in his arms before they could persuade him to let go. Then Howie had suddenly looked over and seemed to recognise where he was.

They were amazed as he crawled over on his hands and knees through the slime and lay next to them; where he rested his head on Chipper’s chest, as if checking for a heartbeat. He cried. For a long time he quietly wept – with Pops crying too.

Just when it’s all getting much too overwhelming and Howie is almost at breaking point, his life takes an unexpected turn as he is given an order regarding the cavalry horses which are treated as just more casualties of the war. As he struggles to obey his orders Howie is allowed a glimpse into another world which gives him hope for his future.

Very well written and researched and I like very much how Howie is portrayed. My only niggle was the tone of some of the  dialogue which left me unconvinced. I felt it could have had more authenticity and this did pull me out of the story a little. That aside, it’s a really good book for the Young Adult genre, showcasing as it does, a boy’s struggles from adolescence into premature manhood under the direst of circumstances.

About the author

JoelToombsJoel Toombs, born in Kenya of missionary parents has degree in Architecture from Sheffield University. In 2014 he also graduated from Cliff College (University of Manchester) with an MA in Mission (Emerging Church & Christian Mentoring). In between these studies he spent 10 years in full time Christian youth work and helped set up and run several charities. He is now an Artist Development Manager for Resound Media in Sheffield, a record label for whom he mentors and promotes upcoming musicians and bands.

Joel has been a regular freelance contributor to ‘Youthwork’ Magazine since 2008 writing articles, resources, reviews and a Mentoring column. Other articles have been published in Outdoor Fitness, Christianity, Plexus and a number of blogs including 24- 7prayer.com. He has also had a booklet published by Grove Books Ltd. (to be released January 2015) ‘Mentoring and Young People.’

Find out more about Joel on Facebook and Twitter

Poppies at the Tower

Commemorating the centenary and paying tribute to British and Commonwealth soldiers killed in the First World War, ceramic poppies are ‘planted’ at the Tower of London, each poppy representing a fallen soldier. It’s a fabulous and moving sight.

IMG_2107

 

IMG_2115

IMG_2116

IMG_2117