February Book Reviews

Been a little bit slower on my reading this month as there’s been quite a lot going on and I’ve really been pushing to finish my latest draft of The Cauldron Born so only two finished reads this month.

First up, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omen’s:

I really enjoyed this book, it’s a lot of fun and a really interesting, original concept. I loved the quirky characters and it’s beautifully written. There are some very funny moments and one liners that had me chuckling to myself. The only thing I would say is that it’s a little bit slow in places and I found myself losing interest a bit towards the end but overall, definitely recommend it! Very much looking forward to Prime Video version, the cast looks amazing.

My other read this month was V.E Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows, the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic:

This was another very enjoyable read, as evidenced by the fact that I devoured all 500 pages of it in about 3 days. I think I actually liked it even more than the first instalment. V.E Schwab weaves a beautiful, lush and believable world that is very easy to sink into and get immersed in. I loved Lila’s adventures on the pirate…ahem..sorry…privateer ship and found a new favourite character in Alucard Emery. Not ashamed to admit that I kinda shipped him and Lila for a minute there. Lilalucard? He was a fun, interesting character and I found I wanted more of his scenes. I was a little disappointed that he wasn’t actually a vampire. I mean, c’mon, his name is Alucard.
Anyhoo, there were a few niggly annoying things about this book. The main one for me being the use of the “not like other girls” trope with Lila which seemed to be emphasised a lot more heavily in this one than the first. It just seemed like the author should kinda know better, particularly in a book with so many cool and powerful female competitors in the tournament who are barely brushed on. Kisimyr, anyone? But no, all girls like dresses and Lila is one of a kind because she prefers knives. K.
I also found some of the whining from Kel and Rhy a little bit tiresome in places. I totally get why they’re struggling. They’ve been through some major trauma. I just feel like we labour over it too much after it has already been made clear.
Overall though, it is superbly written and I found it very hard to put down.

So that’s my quick round-up of February reads. Up next I’m reading A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan.

MCM! Meet Niklas

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Niklas is my main character Cardinal Carrow’s primary love interest in my current WIP, The Cauldron Born . I also have to confess he is one of my favourite characters to write, the words just seem to spill out much more easily when he is “on-screen”, particularly when it comes to the witty repartee between him and Cardinal. I just love their chemistry and the way they spark off each other.

So, a little more about Niklas. First up, he’s a 1000+ year old former Viking vampire whom Cardinal meets when she moves into the apartment beneath his. They quickly strike up a mutual attraction but things are a little tricky since neither of them is in much of a good place to get involved with anyone.

Niklas is very tall, around 6’4, with wavy ash blonde air and silvery grey eyes and his skin is classically vampire pale. His ears have a very slight but noticeable point to them, suggesting he has fey blood somewhere in his ancestry. He has a dry, sarcastic sense of humour, which he often uses to deflect from revealing too much about himself. He has a good reason for secrecy but I’m not telling 😉

He has several tattoos, including three ravens entwined around a triple goddess symbol, representing his fealty to the goddess Morrigan, an Aegishjalmur (the Norse rune for protection) on his wrist, a flock of ravens in flight across his upper chest and shoulder and a tree of life, his family crest, on his hip.

Niklas is occasionally prone to bouts of hedonism, particularly when the weight and monotony of immortally become too much. Whilst he has a reputation as something of a wild child, he is reliable and stable when he has to be.  He is loyal and loving and will always step up when his loved ones are in need. Like Cardinal, he is fiercely brave, sometimes to the point of recklessness. After such a long life, he doesn’t cling to it too tightly and, like many Vikings, believes the date of his death was set long a go.

He has been many things throughout his life, a warrior, a prince, a slave, a concubine, a rock star, even a short and confusing pirate stage sometime in the mid 17th century, but his current incarnation is that of an art teacher at a night school. Painting and drawing were one of his first loves and the few things that have remained consistent throughout his life.

I could go on but let’s save some details for when The Cauldron Born comes out.

Hope you’re having a wonderful Monday and Blessed be! x

Woman Crush Wednesday! Meet Cardinal Carrow

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Happy Witchy Wednesday! To celebrate, I’m sharing a little bit more about my favourite witch and the M/C of my book, Cardinal Carrow.

As of the first chapter of The Cauldron Born, Cardinal is 23 years old, which, considering witches can live past 500 in her world, is still pretty young. She’s managed to establish a decent living for her self by using her skills to sell spells and potions. Cardinal has a strong affinity for the earth element and has a gift for herbal brews and remedies. To help her get by when business is a little slow, Cardinal sidelines as the witchy assistant to local bounty hunter Jack Morgan which, as we discover in The Cauldron Born, is about to get her in all kinds of trouble.

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Male Cardinal

I got my inspiration for Cardinal’s name from the beautiful cardinal bird which is native to North and South America. Whilst my book is set in England, Cardinal’s mum was an avid traveller so I can imagine her picking up the idea for her daughter’s name somewhere along the way. Cardinal is also a shade of red which matches Cardinal’s hair pretty perfectly.

Cardinal’s curly, bright red hair is probably her most striking attribute, as well as marking her out as distinctly not-human. Her eyes are also a rather unusual shade of teal, adding to her unconventional beauty. Cardinal’s skin is a very pale porcelain and her face is rather heart-shaped with a slightly pointed, elfin chin. At 5’5 she’s about average height, if not slightly above, with a soft, slender frame. She has a crescent moon mandala tattoo on her right shoulder blade and a spray of wildflowers on one ankle, plus a fair few piercings in her ears, including a double helix.

Cardinal’s happy place would either be out in the garden tending to plants, walking alone deep in the woods, or out dancing with her two closest friends, Sage and Raven.

Whilst her family on her father’s side is well known (the Carrow’s are a respected witch family) her lineage on her mother’s side is murky at best. I’m sure Cardinal would ask her mother Maeve Faigh and her ancestors all about the family history, if only they weren’t all mysteriously dead……

Cardinal is a Virgo, born on 21st September, Mabon (the Autumn equinox). She exhibits the typical Virgo traits of being loyal, analytical, practical and hard-working and suffers their weakness of being a little overly self-critical and expecting too much from herself. She is exuberant, fun-loving and generally doesn’t take life too seriously but when it comes to protecting those she cares about she is fiercely brave. Her instinctive desire to help people can land her in situations where she is in over her head and she has a tendency towards being overly reactive. But overall I’d say she was a fairly easy going character. She enjoys her independence and is passionate about the things (and people) she loves.

So that’s a general overview of Cardinal as a main character. I’m sure you’ll be hearing lots more about her in the posts to come…..

Blessed be x

Mythology Monday! Meet the Morrigan

Welcome to Mythology Monday, a new regular feature I’ll be posting on the mythology that inspires my writing and the world of The Cauldron Born.

Today’s feature is all about The Morrigan, the Celtic goddess of war, fate and death. Morrigan is a figure I’ve been fascinated with for quite a while, ever since I first encountered her in the graphic novel The Wicked and The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (if you don’t know of it it I strongly suggest checking it out, it is SO GOOD).

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The Morrigan, as featured in The Wicked and The Divine

Since then I’ve done a fair bit of research on the mythology of the Morrigan and felt very drawn to her as a symbol of the Goddess in her dark aspect. So it was no surprise really when Morrigan popped up in my head and insisted she had to appear in The Cauldron Born. In book 1, Morrigan only appears “off screen” through Niklas telling Cardinal all about his past encounters with her when he was just a young Viking warrior.

For those who aren’t familiar, here’s a little break down of who the Morrigan is.

The name Morrigan (or Morrigu, as it is sometimes written) is believed to mean “phantom queen” or “nightmare queen” from the Indo-European root word Mor (terror or monstrous), the Old English word maere (as in, nightmare) and the Scandinavian mara (also nightmare), and righan which translates as queen. There is also some argument that it was intended to translate as “Great Queen”, from the Old Irish mor, meaning great.

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The Morrigan, Image Credit Sharon Aur

In Celtic mythology, the Morrigan foretells the deaths of warriors in battle, often hovering above the battlefield in the form of a crow, ready to carry off the soul of the unfortunate fallen. This suggests that she was perhaps one of the inspirations behind the Irish legend of the banshee, a wailing hag that foretells death. As well as being a symbol of death, Morrigan was rumoured to be able to sway the outcome of battle, appearing in her crow form to either instil courage or fear in the gathered warriors. There are also some examples of the Morrigan actually fighting in the battles herself, such as the Battle of Mag Tuired, where she helps the Tuatha De defeat the Formorians.

As well as being a goddess of war and death, Morrigan has strong links to the land and, particularly, it’s animals. In addition to the crow, Morrigan was believed to be able to shapeshift into the form of a cow, a wolf and an eel, and has a strong affinity with horses. Morrigan is a protector of the land, it’s livestock and inhabitants.

 

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The Morrigan is often described as a “triple goddess”, representing Maiden, Mother and Crone, the divine feminine and the cycle of life. Sometimes she is pictured as one of three sisters, variably, Morrigan, Babd and Macha.

So that’s a brief outline of the Morrigan as I know her. If you would like to learn more about her I recommend “The Morrigan, Meeting the Great Queens” by Morgan Daimler for a more comprehensive introduction.

Also, the song “Morrigan” by Omnia gives a great feel of what the Morrigan is all about.

Blessed be! x

“The Cauldron Born” First Chapter Preview!

Just updated this short excerpt from my current WIP, The Cauldron Born. Would love to know what you think!

The Cauldron Born

Read on for a sneak peak of chapter 1 of The Cauldron Born!

Chapter 1

Dropping the box with a huff, I cringed at the sound of clattering glass inside. Hoping I hadn’t just smashed one of my best potion bottles, I straightened up and surveyed my new apartment. The late summer sun streaming in from the window picked out little orbs of light in the cloud of dust I had just unearthed, giving the room an illusion of glitter. I smiled. Home sweet home. After months of searching for flats I had finally clapped eyes on this place and knew immediately that it was The One.

The building was a creaking, old Victorian town house split into four studio apartments. The basement apartment belonged to my new landlady, an old crone in the literal sense of the word.

My place was piggy in the middle on the second floor…

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