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No one goes near Edburton Manor – not since the night in 1668, when demons rose from the ground to drag Lord Bookham’s new bride to a fiery death. Or so the locals say.
That’s what makes it the perfect hideout for the gang of highwaymen Jamie Lorde runs with.
Ghost stories have never frightened her. The living are a far more dangerous prospect, particularly to a woman in disguise as a man. A woman who can see spirits in a time when witches are hanged and who is working hard to gain the trust of the most ruthless, vicious man she has ever known because she intends to ruin and kill him.
But when the gang discovers Matthew, Lord Bookham’s illegitimate brother, who has been trapped by a curse at the Manor ever since the doomed wedding, all Jamie’s carefully laid plans are sent spiralling out of control.
The Devil’s Bride by newcomer Emma S Jackson is a mix of fantasy and historical fiction. While I am not the biggest fantasy fan (other than Neil Gaiman) I do love a bit of historical fiction combined with the supernatural. So as soon as I saw ‘a woman who can see spirits’ plus ‘witchcraft’ I thought this sounds right up my street.
It’s 1670 and Jamie Lorde is a woman disguised as a man, running with a ruthless group of highwaymen so she can infiltrate her way into the heart and mind of the evil Rowel and kill him. OK. A woman disguised as a man? You may have to suspend disbelief here as I know what you are thinking. Hairless face, no Adam’s Apple, strapped up bust etc. But Shakespeare did it all the time and he got away with it.
The gang are looking for somewhere to hide out when they stumble across Edburton Manor – so haunted and terrifying that no-one goes near. All the better as none of the locals will dare look for them there so they can move in and stay as long as they need. But they are not alone. Matthew, Lord Bookham’s bastard half-brother, lives there, unable to leave because of a curse that prevents him crossing the perimeter of the estate. He too has a power, but unlike Jamie who can see spirits with her sixth sense (‘I see dead people’), Matthew can read people’s minds and knows what they are thinking, including Jamie’s. He knows straight away that she’s a woman. Seemingly none of the others suspect.
This is a great story full of suspense and spooky goings on. I love Jamie as the main protagonist in spite of the fact that she has done some terrible things in pursuit of her goal, including murder. But even though Rowel is Jamie’s main enemy, it’s the loathsome Dennis that I really disliked. And he just gets worse as the tale progresses. He’s a well-written, ghastly character who is just waiting for his comeuppance. Then there’s the mysterious and enigmatic Fielding. We know so little about him but want to know more.
When I started reading I didn’t realise this was the first in a series and I can’t wait to read the next instalment. We need more good fantasy series on TV – there aren’t many apart from His Dark Materials and Good Omens and I love trying to cast them. So who could play Jamie and Matthew? I’m thinking…
The Devil’s Bride is out now in paperback and e-book and you can buy a copy here…
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About the Author
Emma Jackson is the best-selling author of A MISTLETOE MIRACLE, published by Orion Dash. A devoted bookworm and secret-story-scribbler since she was 6 years old, she joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association on their New Writers’ Scheme at the beginning of 2019, determined to focus on her writing. Her debut novel was published in November 2019. When she’s not running around after her two daughters and trying to complete her current work-in-progress, Emma loves to read, bake, catch up on binge-watching TV programmes with her partner and plan lots of craft projects that will inevitably end up unfinished. THE DEVIL’S BRIDE is her second novel, published by DarkStroke as Emma S Jackson. She hopes to continue working across sub-genres of romance, as she believes variety is the spice of life.
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