Sometimes I read a book that stays with me for a long time. I was recently gifted a copy of The Dream Weavers by Barbara Erskine to read. I love historical novels and this was a great story, set in Anglo Saxon Mercia and the modern day.
The Dream Weavers by Barbara Erskine
Mercia, 788 AD
In the grand Saxon halls of Mercia, King Offa rules with cold ambition. His youngest daughter Eadburh is destined for an arranged marriage, but with reckless spirit her heart is taken by a Welsh prince, a man she can never be matched with and who is quickly and cruelly taken from her.
Eadburh inherited her father’s ruthless ways but it’s the gifts passed down from her mother that are far more dangerous. She is determined to carve her own place in the world, yet her path could cause war.
Offa’s Dyke, 2021
In a cottage hidden amongst the misty Welsh hills of Offa’s Dyke, Bea Dalloway is called to help Simon Armstrong, who is searching for peace. Instead he finds himself disturbed by unsettling noises and visions.
It isn’t long before Bea is also swept up by haunting dreams. The past is whispering to them, calling out for the truth to be told at last. And as dreams and reality weave closer together, Bea and Simon must be strong to resist the pull of the past – and its desire for revenge…
I really enjoyed this book. It’s part historical detective novel, part supernatural thriller. Much of the story is based on historical records. Eadburh, one of the daughters of Offa, married Beorhtric, King of Wessex.
According to Asser’s Life of Alfred the Great she killed her husband by poison while attempting to poison another. She fled to Francia, where she is said to have been offered the chance of marrying Charlemagne, but ruined the opportunity. Instead she was appointed as the abbess of a convent. Here she is said to have fornicated with an English exile. As a result, she was eventually expelled from the monastery and ended her days begging in the streets of Pavia.
The Dream Weavers expertly weaves between the lives of Eadburh and Bea in the modern day, as well as Emma, a young girl who gets drawn into the life of Eadburh, Nesta the Anglo Saxon herb wife of Eadburh and a nosy cathedral volunteer.
I loved how the characters could reach out to each other through places or objects where significant events had occurred. Although Eadburh was clearly a fascinating woman of her time and her story was beautifully told by the author. I couldn’t wait to see how the story unfolded and it really made me want to discover more about some of the places mentioned and visit them one day.
The Dream Weavers by Barbara Erskine, was published by HarperCollins last month. Thanks to NetGalley for a review copy.