The best time-travels through history and/or legends

Who am I?

I write novels for children, YA, and adults, most of which reflect my fascination with history, mystery, crime, and fantasy. I particularly enjoy writing timeslip novels, exploring how the past can inform the present and vice versa. I recently updated and revised my award-winning Shalott trilogy, which visits both the historical past and also the quasi-medieval world of Camelot in a reinterpretation of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and with reference also to The Lady of Shalott, the wonderful and mysterious poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. (A reviewer recently compared my Shalott trilogy with the novels of Diana Gabaldon = wow!)

I wrote...

Shalott: Into the Unknown

By Felicity Pulman,

Book cover of Shalott: Into the Unknown

What is my book about?

Through magic and a VR program, five teenagers set out into the unknown to change the legend of Camelot. Instead, they find they are rewriting their own lives and destiny as their true quest is revealed and they become caught up in the illicit love affair between Lancelot and Guinevere, the intrigues of the court, and the deadly magic of the ambitious Morgan le Fay and her nephew, Mordred. Are the teenagers replaying the legend—or creating it? What Callie finds in Camelot will break her heart, while her quest will change all of their lives forever.

Shalott: Into the Unknown is Book 1 of the Shalott trilogy.

The books I picked & why

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Doomsday Book

By Connie Willis,

Book cover of Doomsday Book

Why this book?

This is one of my favourite time-slips ever! Oxford University 2054CE, and historians are now travelling back in time to study seminal moments in history. Post-graduate student, Kivrin, goes through the Net to observe life in medieval time, but the coordinates are wrong and instead, she finds herself in a small village at the time of plague, not knowing that she herself is already carrying a virulent form of a flu-like plague sweeping through the History Department. Desperately ill, Kirvrin has no hope of rescue unless she can identify the ‘saviour’ who found her out in the woods and brought her back to the manor house to be nursed. While her supervisor, Mr. Dunworthy, and student Colin, try to locate her, Kivrin becomes involved with the family at the manor house, and the village priest, Father Roche, who is trying to save his flock with only limited medical knowledge and means at his disposal. 


By Kate Mosse,

Book cover of Labyrinth

Why this book?

Kate Mosse gives readers a fascinating insight into the turbulent history of Carcasonne in many of her novels, including Labyrinth. In 1209, Alais is given an ancient and mysterious book by her father, which with two other books contain the secrets of the true Grail. But the Cathars, the ‘heretics’ at Carcasonne, are under siege from the Catholic church and the books must be kept hidden. Helping Alais escape are a young boy, Sajhe, the guide, Harif, and the wise woman, Esclaramonde. But others are also determined to locate the Trilogy, among them Alais’ own sister, the ambitious and beautiful Oriane.

On an archeological dig in 2005, Alice Tanner discovers two skeletons in a cave in the French Pyrenees, along with a ring bearing a labyrinth symbol. She begins to experience flashbacks to the past, and understands that she’s disturbed something that was meant to stay hidden forever. Also in the present are the fundamentalist Catholic, Authie, and the greedy and beautiful Marie-Cecile de l’Oradore, both of whom will stop at nothing to secure the secrets of the Grail for themselves.

The Lake House

By Kate Morton,

Book cover of The Lake House

Why this book?

The abandoned Lake House is at the heart of this wonderful family saga that slips in time between the catastrophic events of the Midsummer’s Eve celebrations in June 1933 and the present. The story is centred around Eleanor Edevane and her husband, still shell-shocked after the Great War; their daughter Alice, a budding author, who is secretly in love with the gardener, Ben; and Alice’s two sisters. Each of them has a guilty secret; each feels responsible for the disappearance and probable death of baby Theo. Meanwhile, in the present, disgraced police officer, Sadie Sparrow, seeks to redeem herself by solving this cold case of the missing child.    

Through old letters and diaries, reminiscences and confidences, and with the help of her grandfather and the ageing Alice, Sadie finally discovers the truth of what really happened on that night so long ago.

A Booke of Days

By Stephen J. Rivele,

Book cover of A Booke of Days

Why this book?

This remarkable ‘novel’ opens (and closes) with the author being given a journal written by Roger, Duke of Lunel, ‘l’Escrivel’, from whom he claims to be descended. This diary forms the bulk of the novel, and it seems to be a translation of a real diary, an intimate and detailed account of the penitent Roger’s journey to Jerusalem in company with other pilgrims on the First Crusade. At times poetic and beautiful, Roger lays bare his innermost reflections on his faith, his sexuality, his guilty love for his friend’s wife, and his search for his soul and for redemption. In excruciating detail, we also learn of the venality, ambition, and greed of those in charge of the various crusader armies who seek power and position in their conquered territories, and the absolute brutality of the conquering crusaders who, in the name of Christ, slaughter, behead and burn all those men, women and children who stand in their way, be they Turks, ‘heathens’—or even Christians. A riveting read. 

Lady of Hay

By Barbara Erskine,

Book cover of Lady of Hay

Why this book?

Medieval time has always interested me, and this tells the story of Matilda, Lady of Hay, her brutal husband, William de Braose, and the vengeful King John, told in flashbacks from the present as Jo Clifford takes part in an experiment with hypnosis and becomes possessed by Matilda. Jo finds herself reliving those dark days in company with her lover, Nick, and his twisted brother Sam, who are themselves reincarnations from Matilda’s past. At stake is Jo’s happiness and even her life as she takes on the persona of the beautiful but doomed Lady Matilda de Braose, while Jo’s lover Nick becomes the vengeful King John, spurned by Matilda in the past. Nick’s twisted brother Sam, who is also in love with Jo, re-enacts the role of William, Matilda’s brutal husband. As past and present collide, Jo’s fight for survival echoes what happened in the past as Matilda fights to save herself and her family from King John’s vengeance.  

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