Thursday, 29 October 2015

#Medieval #histfic #Blood Rose Angel Longlisted for #msLexia Novel Competition


Very pleased to announce that the third book in my French historical The Bone Angel series, Blood Rose Angel, has been longlisted in the MsLexia Women's Novel Competition 2015. A short extract...

… Ava woke moaning and clawing at her temples. I started rubbing lavender and rose-oil across her brow, then her eyes rolled back till all I could see was the whites … no colour. Just all white.’

‘How horrible.’

‘Worse than horrible, Héloïse. By that time I was screaming … begging the Blessed Virgin to spare my twin––as close to me as my own soul. I’d always thought we’d go together, you see … I couldn’t imagine living if Ava was gone.’ She exhaled a long breath and looked down at the river; at the mountains standing upside down in the water.

‘The Devil crept inside Ava,’ Isa said, ‘and started up a shaking as an earthquake might splinter the earth when Dieu was in a fury. My mind was spinning. What physick could stop the brain spasms? A potion of dandelion roots? Saint John’s Wort seeds eaten for forty days? I didn’t have forty days, Héloïse. Not forty seconds! All I could do was kneel beside her and watch the falling sickness snatch my sister to the dark side.’

I didn’t know what to say, so I just curled my hand over hers.

‘There wasn’t a second to grieve,’ Isa said. ‘I had to free the unborn and baptise it before it died too, or owls would devour its soul. I didn’t ponder … knew I’d lose my nerve if I did. So I swiped a wine-soaked cloth over her belly, made the sign of the cross and sliced an arc clear across Ava’s womb. Then I unfurled the tiniest baby from the gaping red darkness.

‘At first I couldn’t look at that limp, underbaked non-born,’ she said, ‘dragged into the world against every force of nature. But then I couldn’t resist, and you know what? That little girl seemed too lovely to be doomed: pale wisps of hair, eyelids veined like a butterfly’s wing, fingers curling like flower petals at witch-light.’

I gave Isa a small smile as the sun sank onto the rim of the hills in a brilliant orange rind.

‘I laid her between her mother’s legs,’ Isa said, ‘and thought I glimpsed a movement … an eyelid blinking, a fluttering so slight I could’ve imagined it....

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