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Title: The Other Side of the Whale Road
Author: K. A. Hayton
Published: 2nd of September 2021 – Eye and Lightning Books
Format: Digital – 240 pages
“Sometimes, you have to trust. You have to believe in stuff, don’t you? You have to believe in things or there’s nothing left.” – The Other Side of the Whale Road
Hello Hello! How are you?
Today is my stop on the #BlogTour organised by Dave from @The_WriteReads for The Other Side of the Whale Road by K. A. Hayton, a fantastic historical fiction time travel novel, going back to the Dark Ages and Viking battles in East Anglia. This book surprised me a lot, and I really enjoyed it, so keep reading my review to find out more!
Thank you so much to Dave, the author and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to be part of this tour, and for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
How dark were the Dark Ages? Joss is about to find out…
‘The Vikings are better armed than we are. They have long, heavy axes that can take a man’s head from his shoulder. I know this because I see it happen.’
When his mum burns down their house on the Whitehorse estate, sixteen-year-old Joss is sent to live in a sleepy Suffolk village.
The place is steeped in history, as Joss learns when a bike accident pitches him back more than 1,000 years to an Anglo-Saxon village. That history also tells him his new friends are in mortal peril from bloodthirsty invaders. Can he warn their ruler, King Edmund, in time?
And will he ever get home?
Trigger warnings: mentions of drinking and drugs, care/foster homes and being put into care, violence, death, injury, war, fighting, blood, gore, vivid depictions of battles.
The Other Side of the Whale Road by K. A Hayton is a YA historical fiction time travel novel, set in present-day Suffolk, in a small town called Hoxne, and in that same town in 869. I love anything historical and especially which go back quite a ways into the past, which changes from my usual WWI-WIII reads. I am also a sucker for time travel stories, so when I heard about this book going on tour, I couldn’t turn it down, and I’m glad I gave it a chance.
I have to say that the author seems to have done such a great amount of research because the plot and the setting felt so solid and real, I honestly pictured myself in the Dark Ages along with Joss. I like that this also happened in a tiny town, which made it feel so much more authentic than if it had been set in say London. The descriptions of Hoxne both in present and past times were so well done, and they really immersed me into the story.
I love anything historical, so I absolutely loved reading about the Dark Ages and I found it just so well-executed. It was also great in how it taught me about this time period which I knew near to nothing about, but I’ve come out of this book wanting to know more! I’ve always known about the Viking invasions and how they pillaged and destroyed much of England, but it was really interesting seeing it from a first-person point of view and especially in East Anglia since that’s where I come from!
Joss is the main character of this book and he has clearly gone through a lot in the past. His mother has struggled with drinking and drugs and he, along with his twin sisters are now in care as we meet them, although separated in two different families. We don’t get to see much of his mother, Tracy, or his baby sisters, but you can tell that he cares for them, and even though he says his mum is useless, you can see that he loves her anyway. At a few points, Joss had a bit of a weird rapport with women, but otherwise, I found him to be a very interesting teenager. He struggles with a lot throughout the book, including his feelings and his relationship with people, but I loved how he got on instantly well with Cressida and Tim, his foster parents. The other characters in this book were also interesting, and I liked Julian in the present time and Aesc in the past-time the most!
I found that the pace was also really good, however, if I have to give it one criticism (and it’s hardly a criticism!) is that I would have loved for the past-time moments to be longer because I was really enjoying those parts and found them so captivating. I read this book in two sittings and it was such a fast read. So I could definitely have kept on reading about Joss and his adventures and discoveries in the Dark Ages for much longer!
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
Overall, this was a really great YA historical fiction that hooked me from the first few pages and which I flew through! I was not expecting to enjoy this book so much as I hardly knew anything about this time period and was worried that I would be confused, but I needn’t have worried because it was so well executed and described that I was immersed from start to finish.
The author has a great writing style that flows seamlessly and it was a very easy-to-read book. As I mentioned above, I would have liked for there to be more to read because I was enjoying it so much, but that’s the other “negative” thing I can find to say about it, and it’s not even negative! So I would definitely call this book a win!
I gave this book 4.5 stars (full ASPECTS rating below) and I just loved my time reading it. The historical moments were so intriguing and well researched that I feel like I’ve read a great textbook on the subject but in such an enjoyable and captivating way. This book is packed with information and it never felt info-dumpy, so the author definitely did a fantastic job!
If you love anything historical, are a fan of time travel and like learning about a new period of time, and none of the trigger warnings above worry you, then I would 100% recommend this book!
Thank you once again to Dave, the author and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book, it was a marvellous experience and I hope the author writes more historical novels soon, because I’ll be waiting for them!
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading this post, see you soon, stay safe,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – K. A. HAYTON
K.A. HAYTON was born in Lincolnshire and read English at Sheffield University. She lives in Suffolk with her husband and has two daughters. The idea for The Other Side of the Whale Road came from her study of old English poetry at university, and from living in a place where Anglo-Saxon history feels very close.
Atmosphere – 7
Start – 6
Pacing – 7
Ending – 8.5
Characters – 7.5
Theme – 7.5
Style – 8
Total = 51.5
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