Book Review of Skolthane
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Skolthan, Damaris West, paranormal fiction, supernatural, any subject books, paranormal author, virtual book tour cafe, authors on tour, book blog tour,
Publisher: Any Subject Books
Hilda, loner and wise woman, possesses secret knowledge which allows her to access a paradise world called Skolthan. Her warlock ex-husband Joshua, unable to extract the knowledge from her during their marriage, has allied himself with a midwife called Alice who is in reality a powerful black witch. Together they devise a plan to enter Skolthan by storm, in spite of Hilda, and use it as a springboard for reaching and perverting the rest of the universe.
When a homeless girl called Camilla turns up on her doorstep, Hilda takes her in, unaware that this is part of her enemies' plan for spying on her. Camilla has been raped and is pregnant with a child whose sacrifice is intended to provide magic power for breaking into Skolthan.
Camilla is forcibly conducted by her manipulators to a bleak winter shore for an induced birth. Hilda meantime has rallied her few somewhat eccentric friends for a rescue mission. Together they prevent the invasion of Skolthan and subject Alice to a grisly death.
There is to be no conventional happy ending, however: Camilla's ordeal has been too much for her. But happiness has many different guises.
About the Author:
Damaris West (née Damaris Naylor) has been writing almost for as long as she can remember, cutting her teeth on atmospheric poems and ferocious little stories about her own fictitious exploits.
Although her family home was in the heart of Cambridge, UK, hers was none-the-less a rural style of upbringing in which natural history was of immense importance. Of her immediate family, Damaris was the only non-scientist.
Damaris' first novel, 'Wild Goose' (available as part of a compendium with her third novel), drew inspiration for its setting and details from her autobiography, and reflects her own struggle to break away from the family mould. Her second novel, written in time wrested from the demands of running a tuition agency with her husband Clive, is one of fantasy and called Skolthan after the magical and Eden-like island that it describes. Her third novel, 'Queen Anne's Lace', depicts the complex interrelationships of a family (not altogether dissimilar to her own) when their values and desires are brought into sharp relief following a change in circumstances.
Apart from novels, Damaris has written poetry, short stories and articles, some of them commercial. One short story for children has been published separately and is called The Talking Tree.
She currently lives in Umbria, Italy, in a rebuilt farmhouse with her husband and three dogs, all Italian rescue puppies. She divides her time between writing and tending her garden which is in constant need of protection from the ebullient native plants and insects. She writes a daily blog about her adventures – http://italyhouse.wordpress.com
Some of these anecdotes have been turned into a short book about living in Umbria called ‘A Postcard From Umbria’. It contains many of her own photographs.
‘Skolthan’ is the name of a mythical island which can be reached by a handful of initiates through a portal on Tern Island, itself based on a real island off the coast of Norfolk. The story is fanciful but there emerges, amid the dark struggles between good and evil, one of the central themes of Damaris’ work: the importance of protecting places of beauty.
Damaris’ hobbies include playing the violin, gardening, photography and reading.
You can see all the books which she has been involved with at www.anysubject.com .
And then I saw Joshua reappear. I knew it was him because of his stature and the authority in his gait. He seemed to be surrounded by a thick mist which moved with him, and the contours of his features and of his limbs blurred and shifted from one form to another. It was Joshua, and yet one moment there was a man dressed in neutral-coloured clothes, grey-bearded and powerful, and the next there was an animal with a hair-covered chest, horns and the pointed beard of a goat.
The half-human figure seemed as tall as a tree in comparison with the girl huddled at his feet, and the women drew back so that she gradually became aware of his presence. As soon as she saw him she shrank away, but he reached down and picked her up with one arm under her shoulders and the other under her legs. Then he straightened and held her carelessly so that her head lolled back and her dark hair streamed down like a waterfall. After a few moments, in which she never struggled, he raised her, so that I wondered if he was going to kiss her. But instead, with one massively energetic gesture, he flung her with both arms like he might have hurled a pile of bedding, and she sailed through the air, over the margin of shore and into the opaque water of the mudflats, without even uttering a single cry.
Her body disappeared, sucked down into the glutinous silt which in places has the properties of quickmud. In my dream I moved towards her and saw her head reappear: damp hair clung to her cheeks, rivulets of mud ran down over her forehead and her eyes were wide and black with emotion. The emotion didn’t seem to be fear any more, or even desperation; it looked more like bewilderment, and with that expression on her face, staring straight at me, she sank back under the brown water.
I loved the idea of Skolthan, what it is and what it was. I enjoy reading about other realms, particularly ones like this. However, the true joy of the book is the relationships and the struggles with right and wrong or good and bad.
The story is told from the point of view of Hilda, an eccentric would-be witch, who shuns modern conveniences and lives a humble life in a small cottage with no amenities. Hilda has a rough relationship with her daughter that has developed over years, brought on in no small part because of the relationship between her daughter and husband and the relationship between Hilda and her husband, or should I say ex-husband. Hilda has a birthright to Skolthan that she never shared with her daughter because Hilda’s ex-husband would have used the daughter to pollute the birthright. This created an estrangement that continues to this day despite the daughter having broken with her father.
The failure of this mother-daughter relationship has impacted Hilda and her relationship with others. In fact, this failure is why she gets involved with the young stranger who becomes much more her daughter than her flesh and blood daughter is. These relationships and how they grow and change are the true measure of this book. These are the things that impacted me the most while I was reading. It reminded me how precious that mother/daughter relationship can be and how much of an impact it can have in life. I am glad that my relationship with my mother is great and hope that my daughter and I have that relationship in the long term as well.
I give this book 4 out of 5 clouds.
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