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The Lost Queen by Carol McGrath #Review

  We travel back to the 12th Century for this gorgeous historical novel, The Lost Queen by Carol McGrath . It was published by Headline Accent on 18th July. 1191 and the Third Crusade is underway . .  It is 1191 and King Richard the Lionheart is on crusade to pitch battle against Saladin and liberate the city of Jerusalem and her lands. His mother, the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine and his promised bride, Princess Berengaria of Navarre, make a perilous journey over the Alps in midwinter. They are to rendezvous with Richard in the Sicilian port of Messina. There are hazards along the way - vicious assassins, marauding pirates, violent storms and a shipwreck. Berengaria is as feisty as her foes and, surviving it all, she and Richard marry in Cyprus. England needs an heir. But first, Richard and his Queen must return home . . . The Lost Queen is a thrilling medieval story of high adventure, survival, friendship and the enduring love of a Queen for her King.   My Thoughts

Meet the Author: Marc Joan


Today I am delighted to welcome author, Marc Joan to Books, Life and Everything to talk about his writing life and his latest literary / historical novel, Hangdog Souls,  which has been published by Deixis Press.

Welcome to Books, Life and Everything, Marc.  Would you like to start by telling us a little about yourself ?

I had a ‘third-culture kid’ upbringing in South India  -- that is, a childhood spent in a country and culture other than that of one’s parents. My family lived in the Tamil plains, near Madurai, and I went to an international school in Ooty, a town in the Nilgiri Hills. These are actually not ‘hills’ but rather substantial mountains – the peaks exceed 8,000 feet. It’s a very beautiful area, and is home to the most wonderful fauna and flora. That fed my interest in the natural world, and I ended up studying biology at Bristol University before pursuing a career in biomedical research.

When did you first realise you were going to be a writer?

As a child, I was always escaping, either into the countryside or into stories. At school, which I hated, physical escape was almost impossible, so I was driven further into fiction – both as reader and as writer. My first book, a hideous piece of juvenilia, was scribbled on foolscap paper during homework sessions. That said, I could read and write before I began school, and I remember clearly attempting to write poetry at about the age of six. So the glitch that makes people want to write has probably always been part of my nature, but was probably exacerbated by elements of my nurture.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

Getting a meaningful income from writing is difficult unless you are at least a minor celebrity, such as a particularly venal politician or the host of a particularly vacuous television panel show. Quality of writing is often less important to publishers than extent of author visibility, I suppose. Certainly I have always had to have a ‘proper’ job, which for the last 15 years has involved providing services of one form or another to institutions active in the biopharmaceutical sector. Writing happens in the early morning or during down-time.

What are your interests apart from writing?

I am trying to teach myself flamenco guitar; I enjoy it, but I have no ability or previous experience of any musical instrument, so progress is glacial. I also remain hugely interested in the natural world, and like many others am horrified by the damage we are doing to our environment.

 Tell us about your latest book without giving the plot away.

‘Hangdog Souls’ is set in South India over a period of about 300 years, ~1770-2070. Some would describe it as literary fiction, some as literary horror, some as dark fiction; people have compared parts of it to, respectively, David Mitchell, Haruki Murakami, MR James, Nabokov, Lovecraft and Robert Chambers. It can be read on different levels. On one level it is a collection of more-or-less stand-alone novellas and stories, which are often somewhat gothic but distinguished by unique settings. On another level, it is a novel composed of linked stories set over three centuries, each story contributing to the meta-story, which again is often somewhat macabre in tone. And on another level, it is a story of shame, guilt and absolution, and of finding the ability to move on from bad memories. Different readers will find different things in ‘Hangdog Souls’ according to their own personal life trajectories, and that is how it should be. But I hope that everybody can agree that the cover art – developed for us by Prasad Natarajan, a professional wildlife artist based in Bangalore – is extraordinary!

Can you give any hints about any upcoming books you have planned?

I have a finished novel set in Geneva, where I once lived and worked, but I don’t want to say too much about that at this stage. I also have two or three collections of short stories which are close to completion, but I just have not been able to find the time to complete them. They are thematically different, so I can’t really meld them into one large collection – it just wouldn’t feel right. Finally, I have a concept for a tetrad of linked novels, but the amount of work that would be required to complete this kind of project unnerves me, so it is on the backburner until I get a backbone! 

Thanks you Marc. You certainly sound to have several weiting projects on the go!

 About the Author

Marc Joan spent the early part of his life in India, and the early part of his career in biomedical research. He draws on this and other experience for his fiction, which has been published in magazines including Lighthouse Literary Journal, Structo, Bohemyth, Smokelong Quarterly, Hypnos, Chroma, Madcap Review, Danse Macabre, The Apeiron Review, STORGY, Literary Orphans, Bookends Review, Sci Phi, Weird Horror (Undertow Publications), The Dread Machine, Sein und Werden and Nightscript. His novelette, ‘The Speckled God’, was published by Unsung Stories in Feb 2017; he is a contributor to the forthcoming Comma Press anthology ‘Mirror in the Mirror’, the Night Terror Novels anthology Ceci n’est pas une histoire d’horreur, and the DBND anthology ‘Ghost Stories for Starless Nights’. His first novel. ‘Hangdog Souls’, was published by Deixis Press in July 2022.

Marc has been placed in various competitions as follows: he was a finalist in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2017/2018; Runner Up in the Ink Tears Short Story Competition 2017/18; received a Special Mention in the Galley Beggar Short Story Competition 2017/18; long-listed for the Brighton Prize 2017; reached the last 60 (from nearly 1,000 entries) of the 2018 BBC National Short Story Award; received an Honourable Mention (placed in the top 4%) of the 2020 CRAFT Short Fiction Prize; was winner of the 2020 Punt Volat Short Story Competition, and finalist in the same competition with a second entry; was long-listed in the 2020 William van Dyke Short Story Prize (one of 20 semi-finalists from over 400 entries); achieved Highly Commended in the Gatehouse Press New Fiction Prize, 2020; was finalist / selected for publication in the 2020/21 Aesthetica Creative Writing Award; was short-listed in the 2021 Short Fiction / University of Essex International Short Story Competition (one of seven short-listed from ~780 entries); was long-longlisted in the 2021 Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize; proceeded to the second round (top 5% of entries) of the 2021 Bridport Short Story Prize; and had two stories long-listed in the 2021 Exeter Story Prize.

You can follow Marc here: Author Website  |  Publisher website |  Goodreads reviews

Book Spotlight

Described by the publisher as "ambitious and spectacularly accomplished literary fiction for fans of David Mitchell and Haruki Murakami", Hangdog Souls is set in India over a 300-year span (1770-2070).


The Kingdom of Mysore, 1799. A guilt-racked British Army deserter tries to win safety for those he loves — but his reckless bargaining only leaves him trapped between destinies, condemned to facilitate centuries of suicide and murder. Each death diminishes him, until — a quarter of a millennium later — a Keralan astrophysicist has the chance to annul the soldier’s Faustian bargain. But Chandy John is weakened by his own burden of grief. Will this twenty-first century scientist become just another helpless nexus between undeserved death and undeserved life?


Hangdog Souls is set in the Dravidian heartlands of South India — and in a blurred edgeland where alternative realities elide. Through linked narratives of guilt, shame and the search for absolution, this book takes readers from the arid Tamil plains to the highest peaks of the Nilgiris, and from occult horrors in Tipu Sultan’s kingdom to creeping madness in the world of particle physics. Spanning three hundred years, the stories in Hangdog Souls weave together the fates and fortunes of multiple characters — individuals that echo through the generations, always asking the same question: what weight can balance the death of an innocent?


"Hangdog Souls is a bold, modern masterpiece, a novel of incredible scope, originality and imaginative brilliance. A literary tour de force combining the chill of the gothic, the pulse of science-fiction and the gravitas of the finest historical literature, Hangdog Souls will haunt readers beyond the final page."

You can watch the book trailer here

Book links:       Deixis Book PageAmazon UK



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