My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Andy has been shunned from the home of the man she loved by his estranged wife and seeks somewhere that she can mourn her lost love in peace and begin to put her life back together when her friend offers her Sleeper’s Castle a remote dwelling near the town of Hay it seems like the ideal place. However, Sleeper’s Castle has its own problems and soon through her dreams, Andy becomes caught up in the lives of bard Daffy dap Hywel and his talented daughter Catrin and the part they play in the Welsh Marches rebellion against Henry. Both frightened and addicted to the dreams Andy cannot help returning time and again to the world of Catrin. Soon, Andy finds someone in her present life also means her harm. Both her worlds are now dangerous and threatening, but she is so close to finding out the truth, can she resist the urge to see the story to the end?
This is Barbara Erskine’s second novel set in Hay. Her first one “Lady of Hay” (which recently celebrated its 30th birthday) is one of my all-time favourite books and I would recommend it to everyone to read. The characters just leapt off the page and I immediately got caught up in the historical world. For me, this is Erskine’s signature style; strong and complicated characters who won’t run away from the challenge in front (or should that be behind) of them. It was through reading Erskine’s novels that I fell in love with the historical fiction/time-slip genre.
Sleeper’s Castle doesn’t feel quite as good as those stories. There is very little hint of psychological fears in this book that you find in some of her others such as “House of Shadows”. However, the story-telling is still superb in this book – I just missed these little moments of tension which do appear more vividly in her other books.
I really want to give this book a 4.5 out of 5, as I think there are other books Erskine has written which will outshine this one, but that is probably mostly down to personal enjoyment of the story and if I had read this book on its own without having read her earlier work I would definitely have given it a 5 without concern.
To new readers – this book is excellent and I’m sure you will love it.
To returning readers – this book is excellent and I’m sure you will love it but it doesn’t really feature the darker elements found in Erskine’s other works.
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My visit to Hay Festival 2016 to see Barbara Erskine –
With 30 years novel-writing experience under her belt, Barbara’s talk was actually really inspiring as a novice writer so I thought I’d share a few of her thoughts on here with you (written from my notes).
Hope you enjoy. KL ❤