by Ethyl Smith
(Thunderpoint Publishing Ltd, 2016, 237pp, p/b, £8.99 from Amazon UK, ISBN: 978-1-910946-08-4)
As a student, I enjoyed historical fiction, and was delighted to renew my enthusiasm for that genre by reviewing this book, which is set in the small town of Lesmahagow in southern Scotland in 1679 at the time of the Scottish Covenanters. Charles II was now king and demanding control over all things spiritual. Those ministers who would not conform were ousted from their parishes.
This is the author’s debut novel, and I was gripped! Events move at breakneck speed, and there is drama on virtually every page. John Steele, a local farmer, steps in to help Rev Lucas Brotherstone who feels forced to leave his kirk. Key events such as the Battle of Drumclog and the Battle of Bothwell Bridge are featured. Here we meet with fictional characters but also historical characters including Rev Sandy Peden, John Graham of Claverhouse and Sir Robert Hamilton. One of the great strengths of the book is that the characters come across as real and complex people with their own doubts, fears, differences of opinion and levels of faith. Such glimpses into the human psyche are fascinating. To add to the authenticity, the author uses Scottish dialect in all the conversations, and, as this reviewer was born and reared in North Antrim, he found that very easy to follow!
“Changed Times” is the first in a planned trilogy, and I eagerly await the next two novels. I warmly recommend this book. Editor