Cover Image: The Dream Weavers

The Dream Weavers

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Member Reviews

Barbara Erskine's tales feel as if they're set in a different era - and that's when we're dealing with the modern day timelines, let alone the past. In The Dream Weavers, the reader is transported back to the court of King Offa, he of Dyke fame, but the elements set in the present have a curiously Sunday evening glossy 1980s drama period feel to them, too. Here, in Erskine's middle class Welsh Marches idyll, teenagers refer to themselves as 'one' and discuss their 'wretched exams', jokes about domestic violence are par for the course and summering in Provence is the norm. Oh, and characters described as 'vulnerable child[dren]' have their breast-stroking erotic dreams and arousal described in rich detail.

Perhaps Erskine would have done better to have the action in the eighth century, a strand infinitely more successful and entertaining. Lost love, intrigue and murder echo down the centuries and it's quite lovely, in a cosy way; the sumptuous settings and impeccably researched detail make this section of the tale sing. Sheer delicious escapism, this, with none of the silliness which mars the 21st century thread - which is also blighted by an over-egged dose of woo, replete with time travelling psychics and ghostbusting cleric's wives.

All in all, entertaining enough froth which harks back to the past in more ways than one.

My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Simon, a historian from London is renting a cottage near Offa's Dyke in Hereford, on the border between Wales and England to write his book on the local area. In the evenings he sometimes hears the haunting and plaintive cry 'Elise' on his doorstep. He tries to ignore it, but then his teenage children come to stay for the Easter holidays and are disturbed by it too. Unsettled, they contact the local Canon Treasurer at Hereford Cathedral whose wife has studied the paranormal. Cue a wonderfully unfolding story that threatens to overcome those seeking to uncover it.
Reality and dreams weave into each other. All very mystical and totally absorbing. We discover the tale of two lovers, torn apart before they even got going; the daughter of King Offa - Eadburgh, and Elisedd a Welsh Prince. They meet at the construction of Offa's Dyke a fictional earthwork being built by King Offa between England and Wales to inhibit border raids for both sides. A forbidden love story, it really draws you in. Danger lurks everywhere, even from among the modern day cathedral volunteers - (but the way that threat was resolved was the weakest point for me in the book). However, nothing will take away from the full 5 stars. I found this mesmerising. You don't need to 'believe ' in it all, just let it carry you away and be thoroughly entertained by Erskine's super-imagined story of Eadburgh and her life. Superb.
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Another brilliant book by Barbara Erskine. I have read all of her books since her first book Lady of Hay that was a reading revelation. I particularly enjoy the blend of story between the present day and the past as I love seeing history brought to life. A very interesting part of history not often written about and it's good to have pre 1066 times discussed.
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This has to be my favourite Barbara Erskine book, not that I've read many others (3 now). I enjoyed the history of the Welsh and how they were trying to keep out the English by building a dyke along the border. Royal marriages to keep the peace. Didn't seem to work though.  

The hauntings are eerily written and atmospheric. Someone trying to find a loved in the afterlife and not settling. Thank goodness for Bea and her "dreams" in tracing Eadburh (pronounced Edba) and reliving her life through dreams to find out what happened in Eadburh's life. Unfortunately Simon, an history researcher's  daughter also starts to "dream" when she visits and so Bea has to also teach her how to control the " dreams". With the excitement of Sandra following and trying to find out what these 2 are up to. Oh and Bea is the wife of Hereford' Cathedral's Canon so it's all frowned upon.

Great tension in the chase to find the intentionally missing daughter as she tries to find the Prince from the dreams in the run up to the end. I found this brought a tear to the ole eye.

Learned a bit about the tensions during 788AD between Wales and various states broken down in England and each state having a king. There is a beautiful map at the front of the book to help.
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A wonderful and spellbinding novel, that combines historical facts with the interpretation of myths and legends, a love story that is constant over a thousand years. Set in two time zones and as told through various narratives , this is the story of an Anglo- Saxon Princess and her everlasting love for her Welsh Prince.  Set in the area of the Brecon Beacons and Radnor forest, Princess Eadburh is the youngest daughter of King Offa. She falls in love with Prince Elisedd, the youngest son of the King of Powys, but they are denied permission to marry and are separated. Later, Eadburh is told that her Prince has died, and she grieves for her lost love and calls out his name in constant longing, and this is the voice that Simon Armstrong hears in 2021, whilst at his rented cottage. He has gone to this cottage to complete. His book about the history of the Anglo- Saxons in that area. The question is, has he conjured up these spirits through his writings, or is he a conduit between these two time zones? 
He contacts Bea Dalloway, the wife of Mark, who is the Canon Treasurer at Hereford Cathedral. Bea has the dubious gift of psychometric, the ability to read the past of an object via touch. Together they attempt to lay to rest these wandering spirits and give them peaceful and eternal rest. 
I loved the magic and supernatural elements of this story. I did know some names, Ethelbert and Ethelfled, but that owes more to the novels of Bernard Cornwell, but others were new to me. I holidayed in that area some eight years ago, and stayed at a place named Pandy, near Abergavenny, where a short walk from the campsite was a large section of Offas’s Dyke, and it was rather lovely to climb up there and let my imagination run riot. I also visited Hereford Cathedral to see the Mappa Munda, the chained library( Harry Potter made me go there) and the SAS chapel. We were told by a marvellous guide about King Ethelbert, and the fact the building is dedicated to this saint. We visited many of the landmarks described in this book, and it brought back many happy memories. 
I read a small introduction to the Anglo Saxon chronicles years ago, and I think I will have to reread these events again. 
I loved the magic and the research that has gone into this novel. This is not the first book I have read by this author, The Lady of Haye was brilliant and is such a classic now. I rate this as a five star read. I will leave reviews to Goodreads later. This will also be recommended to my local library, whenever they can open up again as we come out of lockdown. 
Thanks to Harper Collins UK, for my ARC, in exchange for my honest review.
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What a fantastic read. This book is set in rural wales and moves between the present and the past and the story is gripping from the very first page. In the present day, we have Simon who writes history books. He has rented a cottage in order to finish his latest book and he begins hearing the distressing calls of a woman outside the cottage. He can't see her but he can hear her and this leads to the introduction of Bea and her ability to help lost spirits, along with her Canon husband Mark. Bea finds herself drawn into the mystery of the ghost and discovers it is Eadburdh, King Offa's daughter, and thus begins the thrilling story of what really happened during Offa's reign and to his daughters. 

I loved everything about this book and the story captured my complete attention. It is filled with love, revenge, murder, mystery, and everything in between and I was glued to the pages waiting to find out what would happen. The characters are fully formed and the writing is excellent. This was my first book by this author and I know it won't be my last. I love her style of writing and how she weaved such a magical story. The descriptions brought everything to life and I highly recommend this to all readers.
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What an epic read this is!

Set in rural Wales, and flitting between the timeframes of the present day and the times of King Offa (c.800 AD), Barbara Erskine weaves an entrancing and thrilling story.

Present day - Bea Dalloway has talents to commune with the spirits, and finds herself drawn in to investigate the sounds of a distressed young lady; this is Eadburdh, daughter to King Offa, torn by cruel circumstance never to fulfil her happiness with her one true love. Transposing seamlessly between the two timeframes via a variety of characters in each period, the story is full of intrigue and magic.

The characters are tangible, full of emotion and you'll follow their every move with intense care. I shall definitely be recommending this book.
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The Dream Weavers by Barbara Erskine is a compelling work of historical fiction with more than a hint of the paranormal. It tells the story of Eadburh, the daughter of King Offa of Mercia and her tragic affair with a young Welsh prince in defiance of her father's plans. Forced into an arranged marriage with another man ,she uses the talents she inherited from her mother and the skills she learned from a local wise woman, Nesta, to gain power but it comes at a very high price. Centuries later Simon, a historian who has come to the area to work on his latest book, is disturbed by the voice of a young woman calling out in the night. Having established that there is no reasonable explanation for the noises , he seeks help from Bea, something of a local "ghostbuster". As a woman who married to a member of the clergy but who also has a sensitivity to the paranormal Bea knows she is treading a fine line , and at first is reluctant to get involved , but soon she is haunted by vivid dreams and drawn into Eadburh's story so deeply that she struggles to step back, and is almost caught up in her vicious plans for revenge. 
This was my first book by this author, and I did not really know what to expect but I ended up really enjoying it. Overall I liked the characters and found them to be very believable, the only exception being Bea's husband who was quite unlikable at times because of his attitude to Bea and her beliefs. I liked how the author wove the past and present timelines together, and it was interesting to read about a period in history that I knew little about. 
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
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Enjoyed this book, but was not certain about every aspect of it. Too many coincidences/connections did make it rather unbelievable.
Loved the historical bits and descriptions, but was less convinced by the modern-day scenarios.
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With thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins for allowing me to review this book. 

Barabara Erskine is on form with her newest book, The dream weavers and she doesn't disappoint with a great story line that 'weavers' between two time lines, 788AD and 2021,

I'm sure Barbara Erskine fans will enjoy this book.
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Wow!! I so loved this book!! Its taken me ages to read as I have been so enthralled in the two dimensions of the story in Anglo-Saxon England and Wales and today, and haven't wanted it to end!!
Classic Barbara Erskine, the tale is brilliantly told, the historic references well thought out and researched.
Bea and her husband Mark live by Hereford cathedral,  Mark as a Canon, Bea is a teacher and psychic. Simon is a historian, researching his latest book in a rented cottage in the borders of Hereford and Wales, when a nightly cry disturbs him and he asks for Bea to help. 
Just brilliant!  Interesting and intelligent,  fantastic reading. 
Highly recommended. I have loved this book, and felt immersed over the last few days. 
Thank you NetGalley for the early read.
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I always look forward to a new Barbara Erskine and was not disappointed with this one. It had me gripped from the first to the last page.
Offa's Dyke 2021 and Simon has rented a cottage, away from his family, to write his new book. Soon though his peace and quiet is disturbed by unsettling cries and visions. He seeks help from Bea but soon she is caught up in the past and the past has a story to be told which has been hidden for to long and needs to be revenged but at what cost?
Mercia 778 AD and King Offa rules Mercia. His youngest daughter Eadburh falls in love with a Welsh prince, but it is not the marriage her father wishes and he is quickly removed. Eadburgh spends the rest of her life looking for him but along the way makes many enemies. Will she ever be at peace?
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What a brilliant story! I absolutely loved this book! Telling a story of Anglo-Saxon England: the daughter of Offa (the dyke builder) Princess Eadburh falls in love with a young Welsh prince, Elisedd, but they are very quickly separated  and so their story begins. A tale of lost love, the terrible struggle to survive and their desperate search to find each other-all set in a period of tumultuous change where human life is easily and regularly extinguished. The story is told through a time slip between an author, Simon, who is writing about the period for his latest book, his daughter Emma who is just discovering that she has very strong psychic ability and Bea, a longstanding psychic who is brought in to help them deal with what is happening around them. The story of Eadburh is loosely based on factual accounts of her life and is enthralling. And what a woman! I'm keen to find out more about her and the Anglo-Saxon period having read this novel. It is also full of the mysticism that people believed in during this time which ties in neatly with the use of modern day psychics to tell the story. This book is so well written and I was completely enthralled within it! I could not put it down!! I am already recommending it to friends as one to read! Brilliant characters that the reader can really connect with and a fascinating historical story- you really cannot ask for more!
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My thanks to HarperCollins for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Dream Weavers’ by Barbara Erskine in exchange for an honest review.

Over the years Barbara Erskine has established herself as a writer of novels that skilfully blend history with aspects of the supernatural. These are often referred to as ‘time slip’ novels as within the narrative there is a link between characters in the present and the past. While not literal time travel, the mental links are still powerful.

In ‘The Dream Weavers’ Erskine explores the Anglo-Saxon concept of the Web of Wyrd, representing the interconnectedness of past, present and future. So the past and present are linked through place and artefacts such as a rare illuminated manuscript and a stone used for scrying and psychometry. 

Simon Armstrong has rented a cottage in the misty Welsh hills of Offa’s Dyke in order to work on his next book. Yet he finds himself disturbed by unsettling noises and visions. The cottage’s owner refers him to Bea Dalloway, who assists in situations involving this kind of haunting. It isn’t long until Bea is caught up in disturbing dreams and visions in which she witnesses events taking place in the Saxon kingdom of Mercia in the eighth-century. 

Her particular focus is Eadburh, the youngest daughter of King Offa. Eadburh is destined for an arranged marriage, but she falls in love with a Welsh prince, who is quickly and cruelly taken from her. This loss warps her soul and echoes down the centuries.

Add to the mix an ancient wise woman who can access the wyrd and reach through time, an impressionable teenager drawn to Eadburh’s tragic tale, and a nosy church volunteer who considers Bea’s activities to be evil. 

Barbara Erskine is a trained historian and approaches the historical sections of her story with great attention to detail. While dealing with hauntings and occult aspects throughout Erskine is very respectful of the Christian faith. 

Even though quite a long novel it proved highly engaging. I admired Bea’s very down-to-earth approach to the situation though she did sometimes take risks that heightened the tension. 

Overall, another strong edition to Barbara Erskine’s body of work that is sure to be welcomed by her many fans.
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The Dream Weavers is a tour de force, a novel that weaves seamlessly between past and present, with a gloriously dreamy, supernatural twist.

Bea has a gift, she can reach into the past and also she can encourage restless spirits to move on into the next realm. When writer Simon Armstrong moves into a local cottage, he is disturbed by the screams of a woman and contacts Bea for help. The woman is the ghost of Eadburh, calling for her lost love, Prince Elisedd. Bea is to become consumed with her story, but in returning again and again to the past, she is in danger of being possessed. When Simon's teenage daughter Emma visits her father, she hears the ghost, and Bea realises she too has the gift - but she needs guidance and protection.

As we enter the dreams of Emma and Bea we learn about the tragedy and intrigue that Eadburh suffered and this part of the story is rich and beautifully textured.

It works so beautifully moving between past and present, and I think this held my interest more than a purely historical point of view would have done.

I really enjoyed this hugely original and intriguing book and thank netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this title in return for an honest review.
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When I was offered the opportunity to read The Dream Weavers ahead of publication, I hesitated because I wasn’t sure I was interested in ‘love and myth, magic and the supernatural’. I’m so glad I did, though – Barbara Erskine draws the reader in to the story and places straight away. The Dream Weavers is evocative of the landscape of the Marches; it’s a bit of a treat to have a book set so close to home and makes it easy to place myself there, to imagine some of the places and plan to visit others.
It was a good idea to start with the modern side of the story – it can sometimes be a little difficult to get in to a new (or old) world with its unfamiliar names and customs. It’s been a while since I immersed myself in the distant past but by the time I was taken there in the first episode of Eadburh’s life, the momentum had built. Sometimes a split narrative can seem contrived but I liked the way it was done here, allowing a modern commentary on long-past events without anachronisms. And if there is a need for exposition, inserting a passage from a book being written by one of the characters is pretty neat; I found it more engaging than being told by the narrator.
The Dream Weavers contains a series of events which handled differently could be preposterous but here were credible, thanks to the reactions of the characters. Any scepticism the reader might have is mirrored by the present-day characters: it is Simon’s firm base in reality that makes what he sees believable to the reader, because he thinks it’s real despite his preconceptions. The exception is the heart of the story, Bea, who treats the supernatural happenings in an unfussy, matter of fact way. I like the idea that the veil between the ages is thin enough to be permeable; perhaps it is.
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According to my Kindle, reading time for this book was 10 hours and 3 mins and what a wonderful 10 hours it was. This novel is pure book heaven and showcases Barbara Erskine’s superior storytelling skills and talent at blending history with fiction and the supernatural. She is still the Queen of time slip fiction. 

It is hard to review without revealing spoilers; part of the thrill of this book is discovering the twists and turns which are always unexpected. Both the contemporary and historical settings are brought to life by the descriptions which ignite the senses. I could smell the herbs in Nesta’s herb garden and imagine being in the halls with King Offa. While reading, I was in these locations and experiencing things with the characters. It made me long to visit Wales and Hereford cathedral. 

All the characters are well developed and I connected with Bea, a modern ghost hunter, for her beliefs and desire to make things better for the ghosts. Eadburh is a complex character and one I wanted to hate but struggled to the more I discovered her story. This novel made me question along with characters, how the traumas people experienced in the past affected their reactions and future events and what would they be like if they had access to the support we have today. 

My only quibble is the novel ended too soon and maybe the end was too tidy, but that could be my hidden revengeful side showing.
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Wow this book had me gripped and I read it over a weekend as I needed to find out what happened. Perfect if you like historical fiction, fantasy and a bit of occult mystery all thrown in together . Yes it is long, but that means the story can develop without shortcuts. 
Simon has a rented a remote cottage on the Welsh/English Borders to get some peace and quiet whilst researching and writing his latest book on King Offa. Hearing a ghostly voice calling out  he enlists the help of Bea ,a physic and wife to the canon Treasurer in Hereford Cathedral . What ensues is a riveting tale of past and present intertwining and drawing in lots of characters. 
I haven't read any Barbara Erskine books for years ,Lady of Hay was my last but I shall certainly be reading more now and recommending them
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Intricate story which moves back and forward through time. Characters are interesting and varied and the story flows well. A good read.
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Yet another brilliant Barbara Erskine novel.  It moves seamlessly between 8th century Wales, England and Western Europe, and the present day.  Clearly well-researched, we're introduced to the little-known daughter of Offa (of the Dyke) and a possible history for her.  There is an excellent sense of place, so much so that I'm tempted to explore the area myself!  All the characters are believable, even if some are definitely not likeable.
I would recommend this to anyone who loves mysteries, historical fiction and a good read.

Many thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for an ARC.
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