The Story Spinner

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request. Sign In or Register Now
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 1 Aug 2024 | Archive Date 22 Aug 2024


A Welsh princess. A Roman general. Their love story lost to time…

The land of the Silures, 382 AD

Elen is a princess promised to a general of Rome. Macsen came to Wales seeking an alliance that would advance his quest for power.

Despite warnings her marriage is destined for heartache, Elen is determined to honour her vows.

But this union will change her destiny forever…

Camp Meadow, 2024

Cadi is a writer who has discovered Elen’s lost story. As she puts pen to paper, she hears the sound of ghostly marching feet.

Opening the gate to the ancient meadow behind her cottage, could the secret behind Elen’s fate lie closer than she thinks?

But someone is desperate to keep the past buried, plotting to destroy the meadow…

Can Cadi uncover Elen’s story before it’s lost to time?

The Sunday Times bestselling author returns with a spellbinding tale of love, ambition, and secrets that have lain silent for over a thousand years…

PRAISE for The Story Spinner!

‘A delicious feast of love, drama, suspense, mystery, history, and a ghostly magic… Simply unputdownable!’ Santa Montefiore

Intriguing, dramatic, beautifully researched, with characters that bring past and present alive’ Rachel Hore

On my best books of the year list.’ Elizabeth Chadwick

‘Beautifully written and vividly evoking the magic of lost worlds, this novel is so breath-taking in its scope that it left me longing for more.Alison Weir

Readers LOVE The Story Spinner!

I loved this book! What a great story! Both gripping and thrilling I could not put this book down! Reader review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The characters make the story. It sucked me in and kept me reading. I'm sorry to have finished it’ Reader review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘I thought about this book even when I wasn't reading it which, to me, is the sign of a good book.’ Reader review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A Welsh princess. A Roman general. Their love story lost to time…

The land of the Silures, 382 AD

Elen is a princess promised to a general of...

Available Editions

ISBN 9780008560928
PRICE £9.99 (GBP)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (EPUB)
Send to Kindle (EPUB)
Download (EPUB)

Average rating from 27 members

Featured Reviews

I have read everything by Barbara Erskine from Lady of Hay onward, and so I was delighted to get an ARC from netgalley. This is a novel that meets her usual high standard both in the story and the characters. When the heroine in the present day hears the sound of marching feet I was already well into the tale, which is a time slip story. Well done Barbara Erskine for another wonderful novel. Highly recommended.

Was this review helpful?

Having loved this authors work for nearly 40 years, I was delighted to find that the quality of her writing still has the power to draw the reader in right from the start and bring history alive. Both Elen and Cadi are fascinating characters, Cadi in present day and Elen in 382 AD. We follow Elen through her life, after her arranged marriage to Roman General Macsen and how his ambition takes them on a dangerous march from Britain towards Rome. The Roman way of life in Britain at that time is beautifully written and researched, and really fascinating to read. I loved the idea of the time slip, it felt authentic and so believable in this setting. Cadi is a poet with a love of the area where she lives, and who has a gift that she is still trying to come to terms with. When she hears the sound of marching feet it sets her off on her own journey, to find out all she can about Elen as so little is know or written about her and her place in Welsh history. Another winner from this author. Recommended.

Thanks to NetGalley, the author and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Was this review helpful?

As always Barbara Erskine has produced a novel that grabs you from the first sentence and does not let go until the final page. Her recognisable themes of a contemporary woman recovering from unpleasant personal experience and a new connection with a woman from the past are present but she manages to make the situation new and different each time.
Characters are realistic and sympathetic but still surprise the reader in the way that they can suddenly behave in an unpredictable way. Cadi is an intelligent woman but also capable of giving in to emotions that drive the story forward. Elen is a vague figure in the footnotes of history to the few people that have heard of her before reading this book, but after reading it she is as real to the reader’s imagination as more well known figures from the past.
The reappearance of Meryn Jones from previous books is very welcome and adds to the feeling that the stories Erskine creates are real as they begin to overlap.
I read the book over a few days and could not put it down even though I knew I would be sad to finish it, now I am impatiently waiting for the announcement of her next novel although I know it will be a while!
Just brilliant as always.

Was this review helpful?

I loved this book! What a great story!
Cadi, a writer /poet lives on the edge of a beautiful small Welsh village where she writes books about Welsh mythology. She revels in the peace and quiet that surrounds her home, and after several failed relationships is happily single. There is only one thing concerning her and that is the strange sound of marching feet that she hears sometimes. However, life in the village looks like it is changing when someone submits plans to build on the meadow next to her home and the marching feet get louder and louder.......
I loved the way the author combines the real history of the Roman occupation of the British Isles with the mythology of King Arthur and Excalibur and interweaves this with the modern day. I learnt a lot about the Roman occupation particularly that of the Welsh Borders which was absolutely fascinating.
The story is relayed through the experiences of the story's characters and what an incredible story it is- both gripping and thrilling I could not put this book down! Highly recommended!

Was this review helpful?

The Story Spinner is a wonderful engrossing story that segues beautifully from present day back in time to 382 AD. Wales have powerful warlike tribes, the Silures and the Romans are well established in Britain. Roman General Macsen wanting to advance his power forms an alliance with the tribes by marrying their kings daughter Elen.
Back in 2024 historical poet and writer has discovered Elen’s lost story and with some supernatural help from Camp Meadow next to her cottage she finds herself automatically writing It all down.
The writing is atmospheric with a cast of characters past and present that epitomises the good and the downright evil.
Born and living in North Wales this for me was an eye opener into our past history. An exciting and throughly enjoyable well researched read.
My thanks to net galley and publisher for the opportunity to review this book honestly.

Was this review helpful?

Barbara Erskine is on top form with this latest book. It kept me enthralled throughout longing to know the outcome. Time slip novel in more than one way.

Was this review helpful?

This was such an engrossing read. I love Barbara Erskine and was thrilled to be given a chance to read this. As always. there is the dual story, with windows through time to connect the past and the present. However, this is one of her less "scary" reads! The plot itself, in both timelines, is really interesting. I admit I stopped a few times to look up places and people. But it's the characters who make the story. Branwen and Meryn (good to see him gain!) were favourites of mine but I enjoyed Cadi and Charles in the present day, and Elen was an intriguing character. Even the peripheral characters - police, vicar, neighbours, etc. all felt fully rounded. It sucked me in and kept me reading. I'm sorry to be finished it but honestly, I couldn't put it down.

Was this review helpful?

I’ve previously read and reviewed another book written by Barbara Erskine (The Dream Weaver). I really enjoy her style of writing and find the stories easy to read. I’ve always enjoyed historical fiction and these are just that. The Sunday Times bestselling author returns with a spellbinding tale of love, ambition, and secrets that have lain silent for over a thousand years. It’s a great story and I learned a lot about Welsh history and the Mabinogion (I kept having to go off and look up words or places I was reading about!). I liked the dual story line and how the story picked up known history as well as myth and legends.

Was this review helpful?

I love Barbara's books and this one was no exception. Duel time-line set in Wales and this time it deals with the Romans in Britain. Very interesting and not a difficult read. My thanks to netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

"Be proud. Be strong. You are royal, never forget it."

I have been an avid fan of Barbara Erskine's novels for many years, so when her publisher, Harper Collins, generously sent me an ARC of her latest book, The Story Spinner, I was thrilled. I made reading it the priority of my free time and I finished it today. As with all of Erskine's novels, I was immediately swept into the story from the very first page.

The Story Spinner of the title is a woman called Cadi who lives in the beautiful Welsh countryside. Tucked away in her cosy Welsh cottage, Cadi works from home as a poet, weaving epic poetry books from the myths and legends of the Mabinogion. Working with her cousin, Rachel, an artist who illustrates the poems, Cadi has produced several books of poetry all related to the legends of her homeland. As she begins to write her latest book, however, suddenly the poems take on a life of their own and Cadi is transported back to Roman occupied Wales during the time of Macsen, or Magnus Maximus, as he is more commonly known in history.

As Cadi develops a spiritual connection with Macsen's wife, Elen, she begins to channel her epic story into her poetry. Elen is also a figure of myth and history, being known in pagan circles as Elen of the Ways - an antlered goddess of the Celtic pantheon, while to the Christians she became St Helen of Caernarfon. Erskine carefully weaves all these threads of Elen's mythology into one tapestry of consummate storytelling. Set in and around the area of the Snowdonia Mountains and Caernarfon Castle, which I have visited many times, this book has a deep sense of place and I felt transported in my mind, back to the ramparts and walled walkway of Caernarfon as I was reading.

This is an epic story which follows Elen's life from girlhood right through to her later years as an elder. It moves from Wales, throughout the Roman Empire and back to Wales again, taking in palaces, hill forts, Roman villas, Druid groves and worm holes! It seamlessly switches between the past and present, as Cadi uncovers how Elen's story is linked to the meadow next to her beloved cottage and to the archaeological dig that is going on there.

One of the things I loved most about the novel is that it addresses the skill of automatic writing and the concept of authors who work intuitively and channel their books into being. This is something I could really relate to as I tend to work intuitively myself when I am creating my oracle decks and books for my publisher. The novel also seemed to hint at Erskine's own writing process and perhaps it is her way of answering the questions often asked of authors, such as where they get their ideas from and how they do what they do. Reading this novel is like peering through the window, watching Barbara Erskine as she writes and I greatly appreciated that insight into her working world.

The Story Spinner is an action packed novel that swings along at a steady pace. It features a jealous ex-lover out for revenge, an adorable dog, some sexy Roman soldiers, a Druid priestess, ghostly Centurions marching through the night and the return of Meryn, one of Erskine's most beloved characters who turns up in lots of her books. Every time I read one of her Meryn novels it is like meeting up with an old friend - some part of me is always reassured that Meryn is here to help save the day in his own magical way! This book was no exception.

As Cadi spins out Elen's tale in her poetry and prose and time has little meaning in her world, its a very easy story to get caught up in. I also feel that in this tale, Barbara Erskine has written a novel about a writer for fellow writers. It is full of little creative tableaus and artistic temperament, so if you want to know what its like to work as an author and poet, this novel will be right up your street.

The Story Spinner is a wonderful novel to fall into and Barbara Erskine never disappoints! Who knows, reading this book might even inspire you to write your own stories and poems and become a bit of a story spinner yourself. You won't have to wait long to read this book as it is released on August 1st. Happy story spinning!

BB Marie x

Was this review helpful?

A classic Erskine book, she never fails to deliver the perfect time-slip novel.

I thought about this book even when I wasn't reading it which, to me, is the sign of a good book.

Was this review helpful?

I am a massive Barbara Erskine fan having read all of her previous books and never been disappointed. This was no exception. I read the book within a week, grabbing every spare moment I could to read a few more chapters. The story of Cadi being drawn to write via automatic writing the story of Elen a British Princess is gripping and as always so well researched. The parallel story of Cadi and the mystery surrounding a nearby meadow threatened with a planning application is equally well written. Another sure fire hit for this author. My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me access to the ARC. Loved it!

Was this review helpful?

I love Barbara Erskine and this book did not disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline and her style of writing. A 5stars from me!

Was this review helpful?

The story spinner of the title is Cadi , who finds herself writing the story of Elen, a princess of the Silures in 382 AD. The ancient field next to her cottage is under threat from developers which seems to be the catalyst for awakening it's long lost story. A fascinating glimpse into the later years of Roman occupation that's well researched and totally absorbing

Was this review helpful?

The concept of a writer (Cadi) finding a gate to ancient history requires layering and nuances, great characterisation and fresh plot points to be unique. Erskine still has it. She always has it. The mastery of her craft and the writer’s mind were the winners for me. I was more interested in these nuanced aspects of the book and yet Elen’s story had to be told by Cadi since it was important.
4.5 stars.

Was this review helpful?

With thanks to netgalley and the author Barbara Erskine

I've been a fan of Barbara Erskine and her 'time=slip' novels for a while, and The Story Spinner doesn't disappoint. The plot was brilliant, and I love the hint of the King Arthur myth (or was it a myth) and the Mabinogion.

The only thing that was disappointing was that I thought it ended too quickly, I want to know more about Elen.

In all a brilliant book

Was this review helpful?

‘There are no reasons we should pick up echoes of the past, except that of course the past is there. On all sorts of levels it is with us’

Cadi, a poet living in Wales has recently found herself writing a story about Elen - daughter of the Welsh high king - who lived by her house over 1600 years ago when Romans ruled the surrounding lands. Cadi's sure that it's just a novel inspired by her recent Welsh poetry translations however, the information she puts to paper seems to have a basis in fact - it's as though she's a conduit to the past Although history recorded Magnus, the Roman General she was married off to, Elen seemed to disappear. Cadi is determined to find out exactly what happened to her, and in doing so uncovers some of the mystery of the land she lives in.

'The Story Spinner' is an immersive time-slip novel, that easily transists from the present to the waning years of Roman rule. Welsh legends and folklore are mixed with history and Druid mysticism to create a richly detailed novel. Although on the lengthier side, there's plenty of story to keep you turning the pages. I highly recommend this book for historical fiction lovers, particularly if you enjoy a bit of magic in your reading.

'She was an observer, the unseen diarist, the only witness. The novelist. The story spinner'.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: