The Dragon Tree (Dr DuLac series Book 2)
A haunting medieval time-slip.
Echoes of the past resonate through time and disturb medievalist Dr DuLac as she struggles with misfortune in the present. She and Rev Rory have escaped to the island of Madeira on a secondment from their posts, yet they are not to find peace – until they can solve the mystery of the shard of azulejo and the ancient ammonite. Viv’s search brings her into contact with two troubled women: a
noblewoman shipwrecked on the island in the 14th century and a rebellious nun at the island convent in the 16th century. As Viv reaches out across the centuries, their lives become intertwined, and she must uncover the secrets of the ominous Dragon Tree in order to locate lost artefacts that
can shape the future.
For fans of Barbara Erskine, Pamela Hartshorne, Susanna Kearsley, Christina Courtenay.
(for A Shape on the Air) “In the best Barbara Erskine tradition …I would highly recommend this novel” -Historical Novel Society
(for the series) “Julia does an incredible job of setting up the idea of time-shift so that it’s believable and makes sense” – book tour reviewer
“The idea of being able to ‘feel’ what happened in the past is enticing … The sense of the island is really wonderful … Julia brings it to life evocatively” – Joanna Barnden
“an engaging and original time-slip novel that keeps the reader turning the pages…the characters are authentic and the mystery is neatly woven between the centuries … seamless time transitions”
– Melissa Morgan
Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and the concept of time. She sees her author brand as a historical fiction writer of romantic mysteries that are evocative of time and place, well-
researched and uplifting page-turners. Her current series focuses on early medieval time-slip/dual-time mysteries. Julia read English at Keele University, England, specialising in medieval language/literature/ history, and has a PhD in socio-linguistics. After a turbulent time in Ghana, West Africa, she became a school teacher, then a university academic and researcher. Her break as an author came soon after she joined the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme in 2015, with a three-book deal from Lume Books (Endeavour) for a trilogy (Drumbeats) set in Ghana in the 1960s. She has published five other books, including A Shape on the Air, an Anglo-Saxon timeslip mystery, and its two sequels The Dragon Tree and The Rune Stone. Her work in progress is the first of a new series of Anglo-Saxon mysteries (Daughter of Mercia) where echoes of the past resonate across the centuries. Her books will appeal to fans of Barbara Erskine, Pamela Hartshorne, Susanna Kearsley, and Christina Courtenay. Her readers say: ‘Julia’s books captured my imagination’, ‘beautiful story-telling’,
‘evocative and well-paced storylines’, ‘brilliant and fascinating’ and ‘I just couldn’t put it down’.
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My thoughts: it took me a bit longer to get into this second time travelling adventure, perhaps because it opened on such sadness, or maybe because I haven’t been to Madeira (although I’ve certainly eaten the cake) and don’t know a lot about it or Portuguese history in general. Portugal is that bit further and seems to have wisely stayed out of various mix ups in history that England, France and Spain seemed determined to have. Sensible place really.
But as Viv starts to connect more with the island’s history, Ana and her descendants, finding out more about the turbulent past and the casual erasure of the (most probably) real original settlers – the Moors, and their influences, I enjoyed it more. Viv is reeling for a tragedy and she and Rory are drifting from each other, each in their own private pain.
Moving to Madeira might seem an extreme way to handle grief, but I can see the desire for a place that doesn’t hold the sad memories the way their home in the UK does. Viv’s research has moved forward too – into a later part of the medieval period- the reign of the English Edward III, who doesn’t come across too well in Ana’s memories, shared by Viv. His wife, Philippa of Hainault is an interesting figure and I would have liked a tiny bit more of her.
I didn’t embrace this book as enthusiastically as A Shape in the Air, which is a shame, although I did find it interesting and want to look at some wider medieval history. Book 3, The Rune Stone, will be reviewed later this week, so stay tuned.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.