on 3 November 2013
Book review "OUT OF TIME" books 1 and 2- THE SECRET OF THE SWAN, and RAVEN"S HOARD
The author Gill Jepson is a local and knows her local history. She also understands young people and writes with authority about the legend and folklore of the surrounding locale, resulting in an absorbing mystical journey that will satisfy readers of all ages, lovers of history and fans of a jolly good read.
In Out Of Time 1- the Secret of The Swan, we meet Rebecca, a young teenager living at home with her family, and coming to terms with the recent loss of her grandfather. Rebecca has all the normal ups and downs of modern life until one day events become decidedly NOT normal and the readers are introduced to a series of strange happenings surrounding Rebecca and her friends Danny and Megan
In Out Of Time 2-Raven's Hoard, we meet Nate, a 15 year old who is given an opportunity to follow his passion for archaeology and soon is drawn into a world where there are secrets and a mystery that no one, until now, has solved. Vikings, secret burials, a sacred sword and again new friendships made with people from the past underpin the fabric of this tale.
Both books are connected as part of a series, but are complete and can be read as stand-alone.
Real places, historical and present, feature in this tale of mystery, hidden treasure and good versus evil. Some down to earth present day scenarios are seamlessly interwoven with transportation into another time by the characters who find themselves inadvertent time travellers. They meet people from the past (but are some of them really from the distant past?) and learn about their lives while following a quest for treasure that belongs to the abbey but has been stolen. The young people discover things about themselves and about life as they find themselves drawn into helping to find and recover the mysterious secret of the swan, (book 1) and the sacred sword (book 2).
The books centre around Furness Abbey, a Cistercian monastery dating back to 1123, the ruins of which you can find, and which still stands quietly today in the Vale of Deadly Nightshade, in Furness Cumbria.
As a central plot location this is a superb backdrop and can be seen as part of the detail on the book's cover. Although in ruins now, the abbey has born witness to centuries of monarchs, religion, monks, scribes, taxes, trade and smugglers, and some of this rich historical tapestry we are invited to see in the pages of this book.
Although the abbey is the centrepiece of the story, other real local landmarks and buildings are described and are part of the story;
Dalton castle (a fourteenth century manorial courthouse which belonged to the Abbey) is still standing today, although in an altered state from the original. .The romantic looking Piel island, an old Motte and Bailey ruin is on a small island off the coast, and can be visited by ferry from Roa island, which is itself a part of the mainland but accessible only by causeway from the village of Rampside. These settlements are on the shores of Morecambe Bay, a pretty tidal estuarine bay, surrounded by south Lakeland fells, ancient churches such as St Cuthbert's at Aldingham, and with dangerous quicksands belying its seemingly innocuous charm.
.These places are all mentioned in the book and can be visited for real on your own travellers discovery of Out of time personal tour, or for many of us history buffs who live a long way away, on a virtual tour- thanks be to internet search engines!
If you are trying to encourage a young person to take an interest in history, or if you yourself want to recapture some of the magic of unexplained mysteries, look no further. The books explore the connections we make with the past, with people and with places. A sprinkling of nostalgia for bygone eras spiced up with unexplained phantoms, spectres and time travel, with a background of solid historical detail, all held together by a very human adventure story which was interesting, exciting and in places quite moving. An entertaining read with a somewhat dreamlike quality to the narrative, out of time books 1 and 2 can be a valuable teaching resource as well as a lovely absorbing read for all ages. Looking forward to the next book in this series!