I've approached writing my first Barbara Erskine review with caution. The fact is, no matter what the other Amazon reviews will have you believe, this book is not Lady of Hay. However, it is one bloody awesome novel and because of that, does not deserve the comparison.
It is true that since House of Echoes, Erskine's work has developed into a historical ghost story of sorts. However, this was a historical paranormal with substance. Sink your teeth into Rome during the time of the Emporer Nero, when Christians were murdered for their controversial belief in one God. Climb down into the pit with the terrified and defenseless and experience the horror of the Gladiator arena, discover the Emporer's motivation for his grissly 'Roman Candles' and the persecution of St Peter. But most of all, take the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of Eigon, a captive Celtic Princess and Erskine's historical central character. She is flawed and damaged but within an inspiring inner-strength.
She is a perfect match for the modern-day central character, Jess. Actually, Jess is the reason I believe so many reviewers have compared this book to Lady of Hay. Erskine did a fantastic job of writing a modern-day storyline that was as interesting as her historical one. She pulled off a perfect marriage of plot-lines. If she was writing in the present she'd end on a cliff-hanger and flip to the past and vice versa. Very clever, very effective and very Erskine.
She writes about women who are on a turbulent inner-journey. She writes about people whose emotions are so powerful and experiences are so traumatic they reach forward from the past and infiltrate our lives in the present. She doesn't just write about people, she writes about the invisible threads that connect us all. I love my historicals to explore the concept of time and destiny and this is due to her.