As if by magic, I am presenting ‘Stone Circle’ by Kate Murdoch. The novel is a rich historical fantasy about a young man’s coming of age, as he learns about magic rituals and alchemy. I have asked Kate to present and extract of her debut novel. She has written to her readers about the book and her chosen extract.
I would like to present you with an extract from my debut novel, ‘Stone Circle’.
It’s a story of magic rituals and rivalry in a 16th century Italian town.
The extract, selected from the middle of the book, is a scene where my protagonist, Antonius, is being initiated as a seer. It describes the ritual he must go through.
It is a key scene in my book, because Antonius’s life is undergoing enormous change, and the ritual is a symbol of that.
Romance, thrilling escapes and alchemy – what’s not to love?
Antonius watched the blue and amber flames as they crackled upwards, repeating the same patterns into infinity. He felt his body move to the rhythms, and realised they all moved in tandem around the fire. The music, the flames, and the night were as much a part of them as the blood coursing through their veins. The pace quickened and they followed, twisting and turning with fluidity.
Antonius’s mind was clear and untroubled. At the same time, he watched Giulia’s russet hair swing across her back and the long line of her slender white arm as she moved with perfect grace. He felt the eyes of many upon him, but he was not afraid. It was a sense of being held in the embrace of the observation, as if he were returning to the home of a friend that was as familiar as it was strange. Glancing at Giulia, he saw she scattered herbs into the flames. His nose twitched as their combined scent wafted towards him—sage, elderflower, cloves, and others. Three crystals were then released into the fire—purple, white, and gold. Several loud cracks erupted into the air and multi-coloured sparks flew, with a hiss and a whine. In a low voice Savinus chanted. It was a mellifluous language he had heard during the rituals at the blue cave. He spread his arms in an outward motion, as if clearing away smoke.
More About the Novel
Stone Circle explores themes of class, rivalry and spiritual growth. It is a historical fantasy novel.
Is the ability to read minds a blessing or a curse?
When Antonius’s father dies, he must work to support his family. He finds employment as a servant in the Palazzo Ducal, home of Conte Valperga. Sixteenth-century Pesaro is a society governed by status, and Antonius has limited opportunities. When a competition is announced, Antonius seizes his chance. The winner will be apprenticed to the town seer. Antonius shares first place with his employer’s son. The two men compete for their mentor’s approval. As their knowledge of magic and alchemy grows, so does the rivalry and animosity between them. When the love of a beautiful woman is at stake, Antonius must find a way to follow his heart and navigate his future.
‘Murdoch presents a delightful romance, feathered with light touches of fantasy. The development of her love triangle is gratifying, and even secondary characters offer stark dramatic moments…’ Kirkus Reviews ‘
‘Her characters’ interactions with each other and their individualities helped shape the book into something wonderful; at the same time she excels at pacing the story with her characters, all within a framework designed to help readers understand the world of seers and alchemy she has created.’ Readers’ Favorite
‘Kate Murdoch’s fabulous writing is full of vivid sounds, sights and scents that pull us into the scene, expressed in inspired word combinations that are a joy to read. A wonderful, entertaining book.’ Gail Cleare, USA Today bestselling author
Words about Kate:
Kate is a painter turned author who enjoys writing flash fiction and short stories when she’s not writing historical fiction. Her debut novel is a romance with an element of fantasy. Kate became completely immersed in her Renaissance town and characters when writing the novel. Kate found it difficult to depart from the world in her novel and this bodes well for a reader intent on escape. The best of luck to Kate with her debut novel.