Another great review of Evie Woolmore’s Equilibrium

And hot on the tail of the lovely review of The Salt Factory, a review by Emmy of the Flaming Colours blog of one of Evie’s other novels, Equilibrium.

Equilibrium is a haunting tale of guilt and longing. Set against the backdrop of London and the Boer War, it shows Britain in a state of change. And as with all change, it is not welcomed by everyone. Between reactionary forces and those of change, the characters in the book struggle to find their own balance.

The atmosphere of London is captured beautifully in the book. The strict class divisions were still very prevalent in social Britain around the turn of the twentieth century. And it plays a huge role in the story. It illustrates poignantly the position of women at the time and the dire consequences for those who try to reach beyond its confines. Add to these the ingredients of the paranormal and a skeptical scientist and you get an idea of the historical depth and detail of the book. I found it absolutely captivating.

We learn much of what drives the characters because we spent a lot of time in their minds. But instead of it bringing me closer to the characters, I mostly felt it slowed down the story. The real engagement came when the pace of the story picked up. At that point, the dialogue and action brought them to life much better than the musings in their mind did. This is illustrated by the characters with whom you don’t get to spend time in their heads; Rafe (who at the start of the story conjured up echoes of Mr. Rochester for me. You’ll have to read the book to see how that works out!) is an excellent example.

The paranormal aspects in the book are well handled. There was a surge of interest for mediums and the paranormal during the time the book is set so it blends in seamlessly. Epiphany, ethereal as she may seem, is the real driving force behind the events of the story and the magical realistic elements are the author’s well used tools to portray what is in essence a very realistic tale of human losses and how to deal with them.

allonymbooks: quality, independent publishing of excellent fiction

As the first anniversary of allonymbooks flies past,  we thought we’d remind you of the excellent novels that have been published by allonymbooks this year. All allonymbooks books are available for Kindle at all Amazon sites.

If you like a contemporary satire with a dark side, look no further than CRASH COLE IN ‘THE RAKE SPARED’ by Cadell Blackstock (Available at all Amazon sites including Amazon UK and Amazon US)

Crash Cole in 'The Rake Spared' cover

This is a scandalous tale with a supernatural twist. If you like your heroes to be decent honourable men, then look away now.

Crash Cole’s fans love him enough to literally keep him alive. But who hated him enough to want him dead? Just like Don Juan before him, celebrity TV biker Crash Cole finds himself at the gates of hell as a consequence of his dissolute and promiscuous lifestyle. Except this hell is of his own making. Hauled back from the brink of death by the unfettered love of his fans, Crash can now hear every one of their voices inside his head, a chaotic din that obscures his memory of how he nearly died in the first place. Learning to live with it proves more than Crash can bear, and with his body mending at a phenomenal rate due to the healing love of his fans, he goes on the run, aided by Julia, a nurse with a bit of a crush on Crash.

Virtually unrecognisable due to terrible scars on his face, Crash revisits his life and the accident, a voyage of discovery constantly overshadowed by the thoughts of those who wished him live and the silence of those who didn’t. But will he learn the truth before his fate catches up with him?

Love him or hate him, you’ll want to get to know him.

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If you like historical fiction or magical realism, Evie Woolmore‘s haunting and imaginative novels will draw you in from the first page. Find out why Read Dream Relax say that Evie is “one indie author worth reading”.

EQUILIBRIUM by Evie Woolmore (Available at all Amazon sites including Amazon UK and Amazon US)

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“…original, poignant, illuminating…”  “a “fine yarn” where spirits, mystery and love waver …”  “…evocative writing…highly recommended…”

Epiphany and Martha are sisters with a stage mediumship act in Edwardian London. When they are asked to give a private reading at the home of Lady Adelia Lyward to find out the truth about her brother’s death, Martha must face up to her past. For two years ago, her affair with Lord Rafe Lyward ended in pregnant disgrace, and her attempted suicide in the River Thames. But there is more at stake than Martha’s anonymous return, for Epiphany bears the burden of restoring the equilibrium, not just to the Lywards but to her sister and ultimately to herself.

The Historical Novel Society review says “the story is rich in complex characters … I recommend “Equilibrium” to readers who enjoy historical fiction with spiritualist influences.” Equilibrium is also Awesome Indies Approved.

RISING UP by Evie Woolmore (Available at all Amazon sites including Amazon UK and Amazon US)

smaller_ru“…simple and beautiful, human and poignant…”   “…mystery, history and a bit of mysticism…” “….it’s one of the best books on the subject I’ve ever read…”

Tom Macindeor is an itinerant English teacher, spending the summer in Warsaw in the hope of finding out the truth about his grandfather, a Polish resistance fighter. But when he hears the voice of Ela, a young woman trapped in the Jewish Ghetto of 1942, a window opens not just on his past but the future of the ghetto and all those who live in it. Should he share what he knows of their fate, or will Ela’s search for the truth about her own family doom them both?

THE SALT FACTORY by Evie Woolmore (Available at all Amazon sites including Amazon UK and Amazon US)

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Evie Woolmore’s latest stunning novel has just been published on Kindle, with a fabulous review at Read Dream Relax.

‘I never shoot a man unless there is no other choice.’

The motto of Thelonia Jones, deputy Marshall, makes perfect sense in the silver-mining mountains of Colorado. But back in Victorian England, hoping to settle the debts of her half-brother Cadell, Thelonia finds much that bewilders her. Why has her wealthy stepfather abandoned his mansion to die alone in a rundown cottage by the sea? Who is the strange little girl who brings seagulls and sick people back to life? And why has the owner of the Greatest Freakshow on Earth followed her halfway around the world? For all her ease around matters of life and death, even Thelonia will be surprised by just how high the stakes are about to get. They say the past always catches up with you. For Thelonia Jones, that means literally.

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If you yearn to be a teenager again – or are one still – try Flora Chase‘s luxurious young adult historical saga:

THE STRATTONS by Flora Chase (Available at all Amazon sites including Amazon UK and Amazon US)

The Strattons vol 1 cover

The Strattons, the first volume of The Strattons young adult historical saga, is set against the backdrop of the luxurious late Edwardian era, on the eve of the First World War. Four young people, aristocrats and servant, are about to find their safe, comfortable world changed forever. Each must come to terms with the expectations of their class, their gender, and their destiny, and decide whether to embrace them or find the courage to fight against them.

When their diplomat father, the 4th Marquess of Stratton, is killed in Germany, Freddie, Julia and Blanche Matchingham, and their housemaid Dinah, find their world changed forever. Freddie must abandon dreams of university to become the 5th Marquess. Julia is wrenched from the contented obscurity of her books to face the nosy aristocracy keen to marry off her brother. Shallow, sociable Blanche finds her ambitions to take London by storm thwarted by mourning and social restriction. And why is Dinah, the first housemaid, suddenly being sent away from Stratton? The arrival of a German prince and a factory worker will turn all their worlds upside down and each of them must decide what their future holds, and whether they have the courage to face it.

The Salt Factory by Evie Woolmore: new to Kindle next week

This week, Evie Woolmore discusses her new historical magical realist novel, The Salt Factory.

salty9_optionI was chatting to a friend the other day about my books and she asked, as people sometimes do, ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ I was able to answer, quite honestly, that the original idea for The Salt Factory came so long ago, that I can hardly remember. But it is a novel that, despite the agonies of plotting and rewriting, I have absolutely adored throughout.

As a reader, it is just the sort of novel I enjoy. It is a bubble of a world where time slows down and all the things we took for granted slowly stop being true. It captures that feeling of falling in love, of permanent change, of the dawning of a completely new perspective on the world. All those things happen to Thelonia Jones in one way or the other, and yet the novel isn’t really about any of them. It is, in the manner of all my novels, a book that seems to be about one story and ends up really being about another.

As Lector’s Books pointed out in my interview with them a couple of weeks ago, my novels do tend to have a twist in the tail, not in the sense of a thriller or a crime novel but in a subtle slide in the way the world is revealed. Unlike the writers whose magical realist works I admire, such as Erin Morgenstern or Carlos Ruiz Zafon, I do not simply present my alternative world as is, without explanation, because for me the explanation Continue reading

Equilibrium by Evie Woolmore: an epitomising epigraph

This week, allonymbooks author Evie Woolmore discusses the background to her novel Equilibrium.

After reading the comments which followed Dan Holloway’s recent discussion of effective ways to promote independently published novels, where it was suggested that authors could use the first 100 words of their books as a promotional tool, I considered using this blog entry to explore this approach. So here they are, around one hundred words from the start of my novel Equilibrium.

May 1903. There is surely no more fitting place for a disgraced housemaid to take her life than on the hidden stairs that slide beneath the Wapping wharves into the Thames. Out of sight they plunge into the lower reaches of the river, flights of stone and wood that at low tide lead to quiet shores but, when the business of the river is in full flow, pass utterly unseen beneath significant exchanges played out on grand piles above. The tide is on the turn but Martha cannot see that in the darkness. What she sees is the detritus of a day’s unloading as it smacks and scrapes in waves against the warehouse walls… 

But  then it occurred to me that if an effective sample is intended to provide a good flavour of the book, then is it really possible to do that with just the first 100 words? Or any 100 words? After all, did you ever see a film trailer that only showed the title sequence? Did you ever go into a bookshop and just read the first paragraph of a book before buying it?

One solution could be to bring together several 100 word extracts from throughout the book – perhaps half a dozen – rather in the style of a trailer, though hopefully not a selection that either leaves you not bothering to go on to read the book, or leaves you knowing how it ends. But as I was leafing through the Continue reading

The Strattons by Flora Chase – a sample

This week, we offer a first glimpse of the first volume of Flora Chase‘s young adult Edwardian saga, The Strattons. Set in the English countryside in the autumn of 1913, the teenagers of Stratton Hall are about to find their lives changed forever…

If you enjoy Chapter 1, the novel is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

To find out more about the novel, visit Flora’s page.

Chapter 1

‘Did someone die?’ exclaimed Blanche Matchingham, as she twirled through the doors into the Drawing Room at Stratton Hall. The peach muslin layers of her dress floated around her most satisfactorily, although frankly the effect was wasted on the others. Her older sister Julia was sitting ramrod straight and prim-as-you-like in the high-backed chair nearest the fireplace, dull and demure in ivory broderie anglaise with barely a dip in the neckline and her arms covered. Opposite Julia stood their brother Freddie, his hands clasped behind his back, the oldest of the three of them and, at least in age, just a man. But his stiff white collar was a teensy bit too high and grazed his chin, his thick, dark hair was refusing to lie down beneath the slick of brilliantine, and he wore the hand-stitched suit from London as though it were a hand-me-down suit of armour.

‘You’re late,’ said Julia in her mousy voice.

‘I couldn’t find my shoes and I was ringing and ringing the bell, but no-one came.’ Blanche looked indignantly at the row of housemaids arranged neatly along the wall, their faces as pale as their aprons against their black dresses. ‘Look at me! My outfit doesn’t match!’

She lifted her skirt in just the way that annoyed Julia, especially in front of all The Staff, and wriggled her foot. Of course, the tiny white shoes looked adorable anyway, and they were her favourites — this week. She glanced slyly at the chauffeur, Charlie, whose eyes were cast down so as not to catch her gaze, but his lip surely twitched around a smile. Of course, he never gave her the satisfaction of knowing she had made him laugh, and he had that way of looking right through her as though she were the least important person in the world, not the attractive sixteen-year-old daughter of the 4th Marquess of Stratton. These House gatherings were So Dull, all this ridiculous formality, The Staff looking so hopelessly out of place against the handprinted Venetian wallpaper while the three Matchingham offspring, the same age as most of the housemaids and footmen, pretended they weren’t there. Blanche sighed noisily, and glanced at the ugly ormolu clock on the mantlepiece. Only eleven o’clock. Ronnie wasn’t expected until lunchtime, but perhaps there was time to run out and call her on the telephone downstairs and beg her to come-over-here-quick-and-stop-me-dying-of-boredom!

‘Please sit down, Blanche,’ implored Julia, her palms hot and damp in her lap. Her stocking-tops were itchy, and the panels of her corset felt even tighter than usual.

I shouldn’t have chosen this chair, she thought suddenly, panic surging through her, this is the chair Papa sat me in when he told me that Ralph had broken off our engagement.

But she couldn’t move, not now all The Staff were here, arranged like sightless statues.

She glanced at Freddie. He was standing exactly where Papa had stood that morning, just out of reach, surely a little ashamed of her. Stiff and awkward, disappointed, bowed over.

Ralph. Julia swallowed her sigh, gulping his name back down into the pit of her stomach where all her misery lay. It had been five long months of hating the staircase down which she had swept on the glorious spring evening of the Easter Ball in her glistening new pale blue ballgown, her fan fluttering coyly in her fingers, picking Ralph out of the crowd of guests who mingled in the Hall. She had sworn she would never go into the orangerie again where she had waited an hour for him, while music and laughter filtered Continue reading

The enduring appeal of the Edwardians

With the new season of ITV’s Downton Abbey beginning any day now, thoughts here at allonymbooks recently turned to the popularity of all things Edwardian, not least because both Evie Woolmore‘s novel Equilibrium and our soon-to-be-published Young Adult saga The Strattons by Flora Chase are set in that era. With the BBC’s current stunning adaptation of Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End continuing the trend, albeit from a darker, more intense perspective, we asked Evie and Flora to discuss why they chose the period to set their books, and what they think makes it so interesting to contemporary audiences. Continue reading