5* Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite
A story that begins with a man waking in the middle of the night, feeling cold and uneasy, to find an ugly woman lurking in his room and telling him she’d waited many years to face a certain Mr. Hardwycke is a good promise for an adventure. The Cavalier Historian by Dorinda Balchin is this story, a tale that features witchcraft, civil war, and a gruesome injustice.
Robert Hardwick has been entrusted with the task to help transform the legendary Marston Manor in Oxfordshire into a themed attraction on the English Civil War. But strange things begin to happen as he starts this exciting project. Someone seems to be working against him, making sure that he doesn’t make any progress. He doesn’t have to investigate because his dreams create the link for him, thrusting him back in time to relive the awful events that took place during the war, and the witch trials of 1651. A woman named Rebekah seems to be at the center of the mystery. Can Robert right the injustice she’d suffered back then?
Part historical and part paranormal, The Cavalier Historian is a story that allows the reader to relive the horrors of the Civil War and the persecution of witches, a story about one of the controversial events in English history. What is most astounding is the bridge the author creates between then and now, making the story read as though it was happening now. The descriptions are vivid and readers will enjoy how the settings and culture are portrayed through the masterful use of language. The plot is fast-paced and intriguing, and I enjoyed the suspense created around the ghostly woman. Dorinda Balchin is a good storyteller with the gift of making the supernatural feel as real as the rainbow and creating characters readers want to stick with. Brilliant. Loved it so much!
Review by ‘Discovering Diamonds’
All fiction requires a reader to suspend disbelief: time-slip novels require the author to pull off a double bluff. This, Dorinda Balchin has achieved in Cavalier Historian. But the novel is more than a time-slip – taking a man working on a very contemporary ‘historic house’ project back to the seventeenth century – it is also multi-layered, well-researched historical fiction involving a war story, a coming-of-age story, a ghost story, a romance, and witchcraft.
The novel opens in the present day with Rob Hardwick being employed to develop a themed Civil War tourist attraction. Waking in the old house in the middle of the night, he sees a malevolent ghost, who haunts him and the house with evil intent for the rest of the story. We then learn Rob’s ancestors lived here and that there was a tragic romance between the second son, Simon, and local girl, Rebekah. Rob then thinks he dreams he is this second son, and the time-slip device takes him back to the 1640s, where he is young Simon writing a diary about the events of the war period. These ‘dreams’ become more and more disturbing and distressing as Rob/Simon is taken into the war itself, travelling to Colchester and Oxford with his father, Sir Thomas, and witnessing appalling scenes. Rob then begins to realise that the Rebekah he has met in nearby woods in the present is the Rebekah he has read about in a letter dated 1651 – a letter written by Simon to explain why he cannot marry her then hidden in the family Bible…
…If you enjoy time-slip stories, this period of English history, are eager to know the facts – plus enjoy the fictional element of superstition and the time-honoured time-slip plot-line, then this novel is worth reading.