When you think of Japan, certain images come to mind, like cherry blossoms, geisha and samurai. The role of men in Japanese society has been explored in many stories, so when a novel focuses on women, there’s something new to explore. This is the case with The Shogun’s Queen, written by Lesley Downer. The book is set during the 1850s, when Japan was starting to get in touch with the rest of the world and the western nations were muscling in. The protagonist is a young Japanese woman called Okatsu, who’s sent to the women’s palace of Edo Castle to marry the shogun and convince him to save Japan and its culture.
How does a legend begin? It’s a story that’s passed down from person to person. Over time, it becomes grander and more embellished until no one’s quite sure what’s true and what isn’t. But a legend lasts forever. The power of stories and how they shape history is one of the main themes explored in James Wilde’s Pendragon. The historical novel is set during the Roman occupation of Britain and lays the foundations for what will become the legend of King Arthur.
Hell, March 13, 1919
They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman.
Ray Celestin’s debut novel, The Axeman’s Jazz, begins with a macabre letter that sets the tone for the rest of the book. The story is set in New Orleans in 1919 and is built around the real life case of the Axeman. The letter was written by the real killer, making the novel even more intriguing.