DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Matt finds The Heart of Winter and meets Shona Kinsella

The Heart of Winter

Shona Kinsella (@shona_kinsella)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20

"Suddenly, stepping out of nowhere, two wolves appeared between the stones. They were huge, bigger than any wolf Brigit had ever seen. One was black and the other white, and both stood as tall as her shoulders. They both growled deep in their chests, lips pulled back to bare teeth that looked as if they could easily crush bone."

Here is something wonderful - a tale of gods and celtic life, Scottish and Irish mythology fuse to create an adventure that Kinsella embues with a passionate beating heart and a fascination for the 'humaness' behind deities who are characters caught up in this powerful story.

The main protagonist is Brigit - a strong female hero for our times, her destiny seemingly set for her befire she takes it into her own hands. When faced with a forced marriage to Aengus, god of Summer, she flees into the highlands in search of the Cailleach, the Queen of Winter. There, she hopes to learn how to live on her own terms, without the need for a man to speak for her, but can she persuade the Cailleach that she is worthy? 

The Heart of Winter blazes a trail with a strong female lead, the plot is intricate and engaging - written with a clear descriptive style that gives plenty of room for emotions to unspool and much thought provoking material for readers to ponder concepts around being between tested, finding your destiny and believing in yourself. This is fantasy with real heart, and it's well worth your time.

I had the chance to ask the author Shona (who is a British Fantasy Award-nominated author) some questions so you can get to know her better.


If you were granted the powers of a master magic wielder what would be the first thing you did? 

Shona: I would make it so that everyone experienced empathy, especially those in power. They would have to make decisions based on what they believed to be best for everyone, not just the few. 

Matt: What is the scariest thing you’ve ever read or watched in a book/film of any genre? 

Shona: I love horror in all it's forms, but I don't really scare that way. One of the most stressful things I've seen though was a scene in the TV series Hannibal, with Mads Mikkelsen, where Hannibal and Jack Crawford are fighting in the kitchen. It's brutal and beautiful all at once and very powerful. 

Matt: If you were hired to throw a parade of any scale or theme through the centre of London what type of parade would it be? 

Shona: All things gothic 

Matt: You are blessed with the ability to grant one wish - what does that look like for you, and whose wish would you grant? 

Shona: I have a very dear friend whose excellent book is out on sub just now. If I could grant one wish, I would grant their wish to find the right home for their book. 

Matt: Who or what inspires you most (can be living or dead)? 

Shona: I don't think there is one thing that inspires me most. I'm constantly inspired, by my kids, but the way the sunlight catches the hills, by music, by something I read, or something I saw on a documentary. The wonderful SFFH writing community is a regular source of inspiration. 

Matt: There’s a masked assailant with a gun to your head, who is most likely to be under the mask? 

Shona: Probably one of my kids telling me to step away from the laptop and do something fun with them. 

Matt: What is the meaning of life? 

Shona: To find joy where you can and leave the world a little better than you found it. 

Matt: What was the best gift you’ve ever been given? 

Shona: Friendship. 

Matt: If you could create a sidekick familiar – what would it be able to do for you? 

Shona: Supply me with coffee and chocolate as and when required. 

Matt: What would you like written on your tombstone? 

Shona: She was kind.

Thanks Shona!!

Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(4.5 - Excellent fantasy that packs real heart


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