Do we ignore the history so close beneath our feet because it is dead, or because we fear it might rise again?
In Northern England, student Nick Blaketon came to Hull’s university to play rugby, drink beer and get laid. None of goes right for him – until he meets auburn-haired Alice Linwood whose studies focus on uncovering the shrine of a Celtic water goddess. To Celtic-Briton Ognirius Licinius Vranaun, who betrayed his name, his ancestry and his people’s religion for the trappings of a Roman lifestyle at Derventio (Malton), the goddess of the pool is not forgotten, nor forgiven. Is this why universities surround the North York Moors as once did mediaeval seats of learning? Nick won’t take Alice’s theories seriously – until the trees crowd in and he realises that his training regime is not to hone his rugby skills.
The places in Torc of Moonlight are real and are described as true as fiction allows. The county of Yorkshire, once home to the Celtic Parisi and Gabrovantices, has more ancient springs known enigmatically as Lady Well than anywhere in England.
Extract of Prologue and Chapter 1 available to read as a pdf at www.lindaacaster.co.uk/ www.lindaacaster.com
Publisher: Legend Press/NGP (108,000 words / 284 pp / 6x9 format)
ISBN-10: 1906558752 / ISBN-13: 978-1906558758
UK shipping now at www.Amazon.co.uk £7.99 + free p&p.
USA shipping now at www.Amazon.com / www.Barnesandnoble.com $13.99.
E-book multiple formats due late Nov/early Dec.
Linda Acaster has always been fascinated by history and the day-to-day lives of early peoples. She vividly remembers as a child watching a Celtic settlement being excavated in the school playing field and wishing she’d been old enough to help. She now lives on the East Yorkshire coast on a Saxon settlement site a stone’s throw from an ancient spring.
As well as Torc of Moonlight, her published work includes two historical novels (the award-winning Hostage of the Heart, and A Wife For Winterman), a Western (Dead Men’s Fingers – writing as Tyler Brentmore,) and over sixty short stories in genres as diverse as women’s, horror, crime, fantasy and SF, published in magazines in the UK, US and Europe.
She has written travel features and opinion pieces for the UK press, and an abundance of articles, and two series, on the techniques of writing fiction.
In her tiny room there were rows and rows of books. Some were obviously secondhand, a few were paperbacks, but the majority were glossies, and looked new. He picked one at random from the shelves. £21.50. Another, no price. A third, £32.95. His gaze ranged over the length of the shelving above her bed. There was a small fortune perched around the walls, a small fortune.
‘Is, er, Roman history your main subject, or are you in business as a specialist bookseller?’ He chuckled, trying to make the quip an ice-breaker. He didn’t need to see Alice’s face to know that he was failing miserably, but he continued undeterred. ‘What I don’t understand is, if you are so heavily into Roman stuff, why are you taking Duval’s American lectures?’
‘I’m not into Roman stuff, I’m into Celtic stuff. Late Celtic and Romano-British.’
Nick noted the biting sarcasm, and bent his head, duly chastened. She took her history seriously, without a doubt. The blonde had said it, hadn’t she? Ink in her veins. Yet, the maps were modern Ordnance Survey, and ringed and marked as they were, spoke of hands-on practicalities.
‘You interested in archaeology?’
‘Why are you here?’
He licked his lips and turned to look at her. She was frowning at him, as suspicious as ever.
‘Here? Honest answer? To get as far away from home as possible. How about you? You haven’t purchased all these books while you’ve been in Hull, have you? You’ve brought them from home. And Special or no Special, I’m sure the syllabus isn’t covering just Celtic and Romano-British history.’
He’d said too much, he could see it in her face. He’d not meant it to sound like an attack, but in trying to change the course of the conversation that was how it had turned out. He considered apologising. He considered averting his gaze, acting docile and submissive.
Her sudden chuckle, weak as it was, came as a surprise.
‘It’s my... hobby. I told you in the refectory. When I’m not studying, I’m studying. I’m very boring.’
Nick forced a smile to mirror her lightening mood. ‘Each to his own. I play rugby and get my face kicked off.’
‘Why, Nicholas Blaketon, are you so intent on following me?’
He looked down at her, and knew that he couldn’t side-step the issue again. He turned, taking two paces towards the window.
‘Look, you’re going to think that I’m crazy.’ He shook his head, and faced her. ‘This is ridiculous. You’re going to think that I’m crazy even when you’re fully compos mentis and can take it all in. We don’t have a hope in hell while you’re like this. When you’re back to normal we’ll sit down quietly with a big pot of coffee and discuss it like rational human beings.’
He nearly laughed. Rational? Who was he trying to kid? Hair that rose like leafy tendrils and shone in the dark? Pins and needles in his hands and his neck? Tree shadows trying to reach for him through his window?
‘I’ve told you,’ she said, ‘I’m not interested in a relationship. Not with you, not—’
‘Yeah, yeah, I know. Not if I was the last man on earth. I get it all the time, believe me. But that’s not part of the equation.’
‘Don’t lie to me. I’m not a bimbo.’
‘I’m not lying to you. Ask any bimbo you meet. They all know me. I move in their circles. They sure aren’t as much work as you.’
Their eyes remained locked. Nick wasn’t going to back down now, he wasn’t even going to consider it. He was lying, though, lying through his teeth. There might be no sexual aggression driving him on this time, no flaring hair beckoning him down, but given the barest encouragement he would sit beside her on the pillows and cradle her in his arms. Care for her.