Dark Angel by Brian John, Greencroft Books 2003.
ISBN 0905559 82 7.
A5 paperback, 432 pp, £8.50.
Published 1st November 2003. Reprinted 2005.
Total copies sold (all editions): 7,300.
We have dumped the old cover and replaced it with this one, using a photo of Rhiannon on the staircase at Scolton Manor -- one of the series taken by Steve Mallett. It's dark and enigmatic, but keeps the house style with the ornamented letter A. The glimpse of the ironwork is also nice -- suggesting something claustrophobic. Suitable, given that the theme of the book is Martha's sense of paranoia and her weariness at the pressures of motherhood......
This is a dark and dramatic tale with romance at its heart, set in the early years of the nineteenth century.
Martha Morgan, a young widow, has finally found love again, after weathering many storms of the heart. She agrees to marry Owain and all the members of her family are delighted. But just as she starts to believe that she can have a quiet, calm life, Martha is terrified by a ghostly apparition, which the servants start to call The Nightwalker. Further troubles await her - an orphan is abandoned on the front doorstep, a ship is wrecked on the rocky coastline nearby, and one of the local squires tries to intimidate and undermine her. Finally, Owain, her anchor, disappears.
For the first time since becoming its Mistress, the Plas Ingli estate is in serious trouble. It is up to Martha to lead the family out of dark times - even if the journey will test her to her limits...
For many female readers, this is the favourite book of the Saga. Maybe that is because it is really about motherhood and the need for security, love and warmth -- but there is a lot of disturbing material in the story, dealing with depression, paranoia and violence, among other things. But Martha is a survivor, and ultimately this book, like all of the others, takes an optimistic and positive view of the human condition.
Using a Female Voice
Question: Wasn’t it risky for you, as a man approaching retirement, to presume to speak as a pregnant, suicidal young woman from another age?
Answer: Very risky indeed. But I had to do it, since that’s the way the story came to me. So I swallowed hard and had to get on with it, for better or worse. Luckily I seem to have got away with it, and many female readers have complimented me on the accuracy with which I have portrayed female moods and instincts. Maybe that’s the female side of me coming out, or maybe it’s down to accurate observation of women over a long period of time! But here I have to thank my wife Inger, who has been my chief critic and consultant on the female psyche. She reads everything as soon as it is written, and does not hesitate to put me right on misjudgements large and small, and indeed on all things feminine. I have to admit to some difficulties in writing the most intimate and erotic scenes in the five books, and also in describing a miscarriage as experienced by Martha herself. No man can really understand the emotional turmoil and physical anguish involved.