Monday, September 19, 2022

Review Woman on the Wall by Robin Rivers Blog Tour



Today is my stop on the Woman on the Wall tour during my stop you'll read an excerpt, my review plus a Q&A with the author. 
I hope you'll take the time to read all about it and order a copy for yourself. Tour sponsor Pacific and Court Publcity

Enjoy!


ASIN: B0B486SCM5
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: 09-06-2022
Length: 394pp
Sibylline Chronicles #1
Source: Publicist/author for review
Buy It: Amazon/ B&N/ indieBound

ADD TO: GOODREADS

Overview:

For 500 years, the once powerful Order of the Sibylline has kept the identity of its future prophetess hidden in the most famous painting in the world. Amid the chaos of post-World War II France, one woman discovers their ancient secret and its ability to transform a fragmented world.

PARIS 1945
A BRILLIANT, DEVOTED, AND DRIVEN PALEOGRAPHER …
After 480 days as a Nazi political prisoner, Dr. Marie Guerrant returns to Paris to repatriate the Mona Lisa and find her daughter. When a British Colonel arrives claiming he needs her French Resistance connections to find the lost painting, which she helped hide seven years earlier, distrust is high. Tipped off about her daughter's involvement and the Colonel's obsessive belief that the Mona Lisa contains the identity of a modern-day Sibyl prophetess, Marie must risk her life to save her daughter and the masterpiece from men consumed by controlling destiny.

AMBOISE, FRANCE 1519
A BRAVE, BOLD, AND POTENT PROPHETESS …
On the eve of rising as the Sibyl of Amboise, Aesmeh de la Rose must rely on her visions to find Leonardo da Vinci after he and the Mona Lisa disappear from his workshop at Clos Lucé. The precious painting and its creator cannot be lost or the ancient Sibylline Order faces extermination after more than 1000 years of rebuilding their powerful matriarchy. Torn between duty and love, Aesmeh must tap into an ancient alchemy in a race to keep the Order safe. But, an unspeakable betrayal forces her to make an unfathomable choice to secure the future of the Sibylline.

This rich alternate history binds two women beyond time, each fighting to restore sight to a world blinded by the power and control of men. The fate of the world rests on their courage to reclaim the ancient feminine powers of the Sibylline. Woman on the Wall is a sweeping fantastical tale of intrigue and hope for humanity that fuels imagination and curiosity.


 

Read an excerpt:

AESMEH

MAY 2, 1519

AMBOISE, FRANCE


Dear One,


How awkward this must be to have a dead woman about to declare the direction of your life. It is unclear to me, even at this crucial moment, how I should address you. Alas, as time can no longer keep us apart, let us dispense with being strangers and begin.


I am the Sibyl of Amboise.


I died here.


You have arrived in this tiny commune because of a five-hundred-year-old pact to find you and bring you home.


As I write these words, I wonder what you know of my kind. Do you know the names Hypatia and Lubna? Does history speak of Shushandukht and Shajar al-Durr? Or, are the Sibyls little more than mythological prophetesses painted upon the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? In truth, we are ancient, once powerful, and nearly vanished.


Born of the Great Mother’s very womb, each Sibyl’s sight gave men a glimpse of what might come. We predicted wars, warned against the rise of tyrants, shed light upon the fates of many. In the great capitals of Badari, Olmec, Xi, Khemet, the Jiroft, even the wilds of Scythia, we served humanity for more than eleven thousand years. And, then . . .


What do you know, Dear One? It pains me. What kind of world did my failures leave you? In the glimmers of your time, I saw only fire and death. Without the Sibyl, men know not the cost of their acts. Power is a seductive demon. Have I left you with the tyrants?


I must assume the world is well enough that Sister Maurine stands at your side in fulfillment of her vow. My regret is not being there beside you as well. 


You are the hope of the Sibylline. I once was that hope, the first to complete training and enter the temple in more than one thousand years. Such care was taken to protect me. However, a malicious enemy lived amongst us. By the time I knew, my throat was nearly slit. It lays upon you now to do what I never fully could—to rise and serve the world.


Yes, Dear One, your coming has been foretold for five centuries. In those fifty decades, such knowledge has hung in the halls of the men who thought us eradicated. They celebrated that sublime smile, all without the fortune of knowing whom they kept safe. You are the oracle they could never burn, lying in state until this very moment.


Listen, Dear One.


Listen without fear.


Your life is an amalgamation of so many others. As you gain the sight, Amboise will return our memories to you. You shall reclaim them as your own. You may feel as if you have gone mad. Know that you are coming alive. This is where your service begins.


In the moments to come, others will attempt to strip your sovereignty. Such war is inevitable. You must prepare for it. Train. Fight as a warrior. Remain devoted to your purpose alone. Do not concede.


Then, call the Sibylline to your side. Step beyond the seven bridges of paradise and into hell in the forest beyond Gaillard. There, in the temple of the Sibylline, you shall rise and take my place at Amboise. That you might watch over humankind in beauty and justice as the Great Mothers before you intended.


Eternally in your service,

Aesmeh de la Rose


My Review:

Woman on the Wall
Book 1 The Sibylline Chronicles
Robin Rivers

Robin Rivers debut, Woman on the Wall has something for everyone, action, romance, mystery, fantasy, secret societies, strong female protagonists and betrayals. Plus it’s a fantasy series debut, historical in nature and takes place in two timelines, 1519 and 1945. Setting up a series has its own challenges, introducing main players dealing with and plots and sub-plots, plus the magical component here means there’s also world-building to contend with. Robin delivers a unique and extremely interesting take on an arcane legend an interesting marriage of alternate history, fantasy and magical realism. Her narrative is action packed and informative filled with google worthy words and phrases. Plus there are many clues so be sure to pay attention or you might miss some vital information and if it seems the story slows just a bit in the middle don’t fret it quickly picks up steam again and by the end the audience will be on the edge of their seats biting their nails. The characters are superb, you’ll get to see the genius and human side of Leonardo who shares the pages with many stars besides Marie and the fifteenth century oracle and readers will have a hard time picking favorites but will not have a hard time picking out the reprobates. Fans of historical conspiracies, fantasy, magical realism and fans of novels like The Da Vinci Code will really enjoy this debut.

Hidden in da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Mona Lisa, is a clue, a revelation of the next prophetess of the Order of the Sibylline, A lost matriarchal society that men have tried to stamp out and nearly succeeded. As Europe recovers from the ravages of WWII there is one chance and one woman who can put the order back together. She’s not a believer but there are allies of the order who will try to put her on the right path. But there’s more at stake than she could ever have imagined.

During the war renowned Paleographer Dr. Marie Guerrant was part of a team helping to keep France’s works of art out of the hands of the Nazis then she watched as they murdered her husband and took her prisoner where for over a year they tortured her and made her work for them. Now the war is over and all she wants is to return La Joconde (The Mona Lisa) back to her rightful place in the Louvre and to find her daughter Serah who she hoped managed to disappear after her capture. Then she teams up with a British officer who says he knows the whereabouts of the painting and her daughter but also believes some nonsense about a secret society associated with the Mona Lisa. All Marie wants is to find her daughter and make sure she’s safe.

In 1519 Aesmeh de la Rose, the next Sibyl of Amboise prophetess is just about to take her vows when she and the order are betrayed. Her duty now is to be sure Leonardo da Vinci puts his clue of the identification of the future Sibyl on to his painting. Then he disappears and the all the evidence is pointing at her lover being the traitor so she must rely on her foresight to learn the truth, save herself, her sisters and the order.

Q&A with Robin


Robin Rivers is an award-winning writer who guides young authors as CEO of Quill Academy of Creative Writing. She has always been fascinated with stories of lost times and nerds out in the realm of all things historical, fantastical, female, and mythological. As a result, she spends her days in a literary universe best described as slipstream — a mix of historical, magical realism, and haunting romance. Robin lives with her husband, daughters, and their sphynx cat Hypatia on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations in Vancouver, Canada. Woman On The Wall is her debut novel. Stay up to date on The Sibylline Chronicles at thesibyllinechronicles.com and follow Robin on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


  1. Tell us about Woman on the Wall

Robin Rivers: For 500 years, the once powerful Order of the Sibylline has kept the identity of its future prophetess hidden in the most famous painting in the world. Amid the chaos of post-World War II France, one woman discovers their ancient secret and its ability to transform a fragmented world.


It’s a rich alternate history that binds two women beyond time, each fighting to restore sight to a world blinded by the power and control of men. The fate of the world rests on their courage to reclaim the ancient feminine powers of the Sibylline. 


  1. You could have explored any matriarchal society in history. Why the Sibylline? 

RR: The ancient Sibyls drew my attention for several reasons. First, they were prophetesses whom kings and emperors relied upon throughout history to foretell events such as war, rise to power, and even love. The mythology around them ranges from these women living a thousand years, to kings being cursed for going against them. The Sibylline Books, which held the prophecies of the Sibyls for thousands of years, vanished around 418 A.D. and the stories about them and their lives don’t exist or have been lost. What if we knew their stories? What if it turned out that women, particularly Sibylline, held some of the most powerful positions in society we have long thought as staunchly patriarchal? What if they had been systematically erased from history? I wanted to explore the potential of that alternate history.


  1. How do the characters in your story relate to the modern world and the issues women face today?

RR: The desire to control women and the power that they possess is evident in almost every aspect of the modern world. We do not need to look far beyond laws related to reproductive rights, ongoing human trafficking, and missing Indigenous women in Canada to understand that. Modern women are the embodiment of the Sibylline and their ancient struggle to reclaim the values of their matriarchal society. It’s nuanced. Not every woman is onboard, and not every Sibylline wants the same thing. However, we cannot deny the work that must be done.


  1. How does a fantasy novel such as yours allow you to explore the nuances of the role of women in society vs. if it were straight historical fiction?

RR: Fantasy serves the great purpose of allowing us the opportunity to consider a range of possibilities when it comes to historical truths. Let’s face it. There are so many historical mysteries for which neither the historical record or modern scientific theory can necessarily account. That, paired with the other reality that there is plenty of evidence that entire civilizations were pillaged and reframed, even claimed by those who overthrew them, leaves the door open for rich literary exploration. When we have lost stories to time or tyranny, it is the fantastical that allows us to rediscover those spaces and reclaim them.


  1. How do you see women relating to the characters in this story?

RR: I set out to create a cast that people who identify as women my age would relate to because I rarely find myself in novels as a middle-aged woman. That was my starting point, to bring the feminine of a certain vintage and experience to the forefront of a novel where those qualities gave them what it took to succeed. From there, I wanted layers of gray in all of the characters so that we could find ourselves, imperfections and all, in their desires, strengths, and grief. My hope is that women are moved to see themselves in the Sibylline, Marie, and their collective recovery of the feminine.


  1. Why combine the Mona Lisa, World War II, and the Sibyls?

RR: The Mona Lisa was hidden away and off the radar for most of World War II and her actual return to the Louvre coincided with my story timeline. It seemed ideal to combine that, the well-known Nazi obsession with occult artifacts (they also had their own woman who claimed to be an orcale), and the other reality that Fontevraud was a prison where many WWII political prisoners were kept. Layered on top of that, the Mona Lisa contains its own mysteries. The timelines came together in the most wonderful ways.


  1. You traveled to France to research this story. How did going to these places shape what you wrote?

RR: Traveling to France changed the entire story for me. While I could research the heck out of anything online, there was something truly magical about being in Amboise, Fontevraud, and other places. I discovered several locations including the spring outside Château Gaillard and Les Greniers de Caséar that I would never really have known about from online research. Now, they are key locations in Woman On The Wall.


  1. You also teach writing. What advice do you have for writers who may be hesitating to start writing their book?

RR: Write every day, but don’t do it alone. Work with a developmental editor or a teacher who can help you refine your skills and learn the craft. Yes, there is such a thing as natural writing ability. However, storytelling is as much a vocation—with specific tools and necessary training on how to use them—as it is an artform. Also, writing is hard work, like LOTS of hard work. Accept that and you are gold. 


  1. What’s next for you?

RR: The Sibylline Chronicles VOL. 2! The next installment in this series is already well underway. I will only say this–it picks up in 1950 as the nuclear arms race picks up pace and the Sibylline are right in the middle of it.



About the author:
Robin Rivers is an award-winning writer who guides young authors as CEO of Quill Academy of Creative Writing. She has always been fascinated with stories of lost times and nerds out in the realm of all things historical, fantastical, female, and mythological. As a result, she spends her days in a literary universe best described as slipstream — a mix of historical, magical realism, and haunting romance. Robin lives with her husband, daughters, and their sphynx cat Hypatia on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations in Vancouver, Canada. Woman On The Wall is her debut novel. Stay up to date on The Sibylline Chronicles at thesibyllinechronicles.com and follow Robin on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

6 comments:

  1. Wonderful review & interview. Such an interesting period.

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    1. yes very much so and seeing Leonardo in a different light too

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  2. Thank you so much for the review and interview. I'm thrilled you enjoyed the novel.

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  3. This sounds so good! I could definitely see myself enjoying this one.

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