As you know, self-published/indie authors have to do it all, from editing to cover design to marketing and more. Self-Published Saturday is my attempt to help a little bit with the marketing side of things for self-published/indie authors. This post features a book I reviewed for the November issue of Historical Novels Review (HNR), the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. Below is my 5-star review. HNR must have agreed with me because they made this book an editor’s choice.
The Hanoverian Army, having won the Battle of Culloden in 1746, storms the northeastern Scottish Highlands, intent on crushing its clans. Seven-year-old Duncan hides while his family is burned to death. In 1747, five-year-old Rowena loses her mother, who dies in childbirth. Duncan is taken in by a priest, and then is passed to Rowena’s father, who teaches him the art of smuggling whisky. Rowena soon befriends Morna, the green woman, who eventually passes on to her the healing skills of the natural world. Years later, Hugh McBeath, a ruthless exciseman who has arrived to end the whisky smuggling in the area, is captivated by Rowena’s beauty. Although he thinks she is a witch, he wants her for his wife. Duncan, meanwhile, is the best smuggler in the glen, but feels he can never be worthy of the lovely and gifted Rowena.
Beautiful and breathtaking, this Scottish historical novel transports you to the sweeping beauty of the Highlands. The dialect is perfect for the period, and the lush descriptions of the scenery take the reader straight to the moss-covered mountains of Scotland. The story is alive with folklore as we learn of “wild places” and “faeryhills.” Because she is learning the art of healing and is sensitive to “the trees and their spirits,” Rowena is often thought of as a witch in a time when witches were tried and killed. The whisky-smuggling culture of the Highlands, and the reason for it, is also explored. Full of deception, treachery, love, folklore, and kinship, Under a Gravid Sky is a heartrending but passionate saga set in a tough and sometimes heartless time.
I received a free copy of this book via Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angela MacRae Shanks was born in Garmouth, a village near the mouth of the River Spey in northeast Scotland, and still lives near here. Her mother was born in Strathavon, a real place, and this remote glen is very dear to her heart. Here she first heard tales of the dramatic history of the area, its people and their struggles, and became fascinated by it.
Growing up in Moray, a beautiful part of Scotland known as ‘malt whisky country’, an interest in the area’s illicit past grew, particularly the smuggling of whisky and the reasons behind it. Her fascination with the natural world and the folklore of the Highlands, combined with her training in natural therapies spawned a need to weave herbal lore into her tales. Those who healed using plants and the wisdom of nature, usually women, were often condemned as witches – she felt the need to explore this injustice. And so The Strathavon Saga was born.
Link to Book 2: The Blood and the Barley
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Two Reminders before you go:
- If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books. This is very important to self-published authors.
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5 thoughts on “Self-Published Saturday: Under a Gravid Sky”
Lovely review Bonnie. After reading your review, I don’t think the cover matches the story very well? But, since I haven’t read the book, I”m not sure.
The cover’s a little brown, but I have seen some pictures of the Highlands looking brown, and some very green. I’ve never been there but I assume it’s the season.
It’s great that you are open to self-publishing authors. I released a book recently- The Cross We Bear- and while the few people that have read it seem to like it, it’s hard to get any traction going in the marketplace. An excerpt is on my site and it is available on Amazon.
Hi I.V. if you want to submit a review request, see Review Requests at the top right of this page.
Thank-you so much! I’ve sent you the request just now. Please let me know if you need any other information.