A Junior Library Guild Selection published Henry Holt
A would-be monk in a 10th century Celtic
abbey teams up with an alluring young
wood-witch to escape raiders and plumb
the divinity of supernatural experiences,
including love. For readers of ages 12 and up.
Excerpt from the back jacket:
“Do you smell that?”
Aidan inhaled. His nose caught the same seared air. A spike of alarm passed through him as his memory interpreted the scent.
“That’s not wood smoke,” he said. “That smells like fields burning!”
“Or thatch!” Lana ran a few paces, then whirled back toward him. “Oh Aidan, not raiders… is it?”
His mind raced, trying to find another explanation, one that wouldn’t carry so much dread. He noticed, then, the hush that had befallen the woods along with the smell of burning. Not a bird tweeped. He released his collected oak apples once more, hoping fervently he’d be picking them up again soon.
Seeing them spill, Lana tensed to bolt. He grabbed her. She pulled him several steps before he managed to yank her to a halt, his lips near her ear.
“It might be,” he said, low. He scanned the forest around them. “It might be vikings, Lana, and if we’re not careful we’ll be dead.”
This book is perfect for:
- Fans of historical fiction and historical fantasies
- Artists interested in illuminated manuscripts
- Would-be witches and herbalists
- Math lovers and synesthetes
- Readers intrigued by early Ireland
During a trip to Dublin in 2004, I visited Trinity College Library and its Book of Kells exhibit. I've always been intrigued by illuminated manuscripts, and the Book of Kells is truly ethereal — justifiably described as the work “not of men but of angels.” It was the library's Long Room, upstairs, however, that most overwhelmed me. The long, sunlit hall is ribbed with floor-to-ceiling shelves of dark wood. Narrow, rustic wooden ladders ascend to the higher shelves like flying buttresses, giving access to row upon row of leather-bound books with no visible titles. Most are hundreds of years old. Standing at the head of that hall was literally a spiritual experience for me, and it sparked the desire to write a story grounded in those feelings of reverence, artistry, and awe.
Almost exactly a year later, I was sitting in my hot tub late one night, musing an idea that had teased me for years: a character who could hear numerical auras in a kind of synesthesia. A young monk who longed to be an illuminator stepped up. His story wrote itself.