Sometimes a book comes along that both entrances and seduces you,
and I was mesmerised by Michael Wombat’s The Raven’s Wing.
I’ve said it before, I don’t often blog about books, I love reviewing them, but every now and then I’ll be so blown away they have to feature on my blog, like Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin, The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, and Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of Dementia by S. R. Karfelt. I’m a sucker for a book that draws me in with fantasy and quirky magic.
I’ve read several books by this author before, and always loved them. He has a knack for portraying truth and using description to weave you right into the story. We also collaborated, a couple of years ago, on Human 76, where Michael Wombat was a vital part of collating and helping to create a very original collection of stories.
The Raven’s Wing is a labour of love and the resulting book is an incredibly authentic mediaeval novel with a hint of truth and chronicle behind it. Read the blurb:
They say you should follow your dreams. They never tell you what to do when the dreams start following you.
The year is 1322. Minstrel John has enough on his plate with his wife’s funeral. He could do without the naked woman who keeps forcing her way into his dreams, the angel dropping skulls in the village church, the stranger that attacks him for no reason, and the sexy, one-eyed, fire-dancer who is after only one thing – his music. Then there are the voices in his head, compelling him to investigate a mystery that just keeps on growing.
Based on a true story, this is not history, this is the 14th century as experienced by those who lived there, and who saw it as the leading edge of time. As John discovers, demons and magic can be very real.
The story begins with an intensely erotic dream, if you know Wombat’s writing you’ll know nothing daunts him, down-to-earth honest, bawdy realism and coarse language intertwine with sheer beauty and descriptions that will whisk you away to another time. After this you are introduced to John, a simple minstrel, and his friends as they deal with the loss of John’s wife. It could be an unassuming tale, but John’s life takes a turn that will change him forever as a mysterious skull is found at the funeral.
You will be drawn into his life and the mystery that shrouds him. You’ll love his friends and you’ll will John on as he humbly searches for answers. Wombat will take you on a tour of mediaeval Britain complete with myth and magic, and you’ll be left wanting more.
Now, think about the 14th century and imagine you want to write something that truly reflected the period… I asked Michael Wombat about how much research went into The Raven’s Wing:
‘Since I first heard Steeleye Span’s ‘John of Ditchford’ 20 years ago I’ve thought it’d make a good root for a story. When I finally got round to building a proper tale around it, it took 6 years to research and weave a satisfyingly deep story around what was in real life a thuggish murder. I made sure to keep copious research notes (thank you Scrivener!), and included the most interesting things I discovered in the Notes at the back of the book.’
The back of the book Notes are a real treat. Knitting realistic 14th century dialogue, words, places, and much more into a modern-day written story isn’t easy, though Wombat has done it so well; the tale is both fluid and beautiful to read. Chapter-by-chapter Wombat analyses and explains his terms and wordage to both educate and fascinate you.
Six years of research must have brought up intriguing facts and stories, so what was his favourite?
‘The most fascinating part of the research for me was the songs I discovered. Songs of love, lust and weird stuff aplenty. And of course the medieval recipes.’
A friend of mine, Miranda, recently made Pentecost’s waffres, and said they were delicious!
I said earlier, once this tale is done, you’ll be left wanting more. Michael Wombat commented:
‘As for the future, I’m putting together a pocketbook of ‘Raven’s Wing Extras’ – sketches I made while writing the book, behind the scenes stories, character backstories and so on. Beyond that, I kind of left Jenifry and Moss with a massive cliffhanger – one day, maybe, I’ll write their continuing story.’
I definitely want more from this period of time and Wombat’s characters.
I am a big fan of Wombat’s writing with many of his books on my Kindle and on my bookshelves, and I look forward to reading more. Wombat is an eclectic writer with a penchant for the extraordinary, and reading his bio will let you know what you’re getting yourself into:
A Yorkshireman living in the rural green hills of Lancashire, Michael Wombat is a man of huge beard. He has a penchant for good single-malts, inept football teams, big daft dogs and the diary of Mr. Samuel Pepys. Abducted by pirates at the age of twelve he quickly rose to captain the feared privateer ‘The Mrs. Nesbitt’ and terrorised the Skull Coast throughout his early twenties. Narrowly escaping the Revenue men by dressing as a burlesque dancer, he went on to work successively and successfully as a burlesque dancer, a forester, a busker, and a magic carpet salesman. The fact that he was once one of that forgotten company, the bus conductors, will immediately tell you that he is as old as the hills in which he lives. Nowadays he spends his time writing and pretending to take good photographs. You can have a good laugh at his pathetic blog or his photographs, but most of all please go and mock him mercilessly on Twitter or Facebook. Michael Wombat has published over one book. Other authors are available.
My last words for The Raven’s Wing – sometimes I get lost in stories because they seduce me, sentences inspire, and the story takes me somewhere completely new. Maybe you’d like to visit the 14th century? Go on give it a try… you won’t be sorry!
You can buy The Raven’s Wing
It’s seriously worth every penny.