Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Kristie Davis Dean Reviews Betrayal by Michele Kallio

Betrayal is a fun read. Michele Kallio does a good job of jumping back and forth through two time periods and two separate stories. This novel is a blend of historical fiction, contemporary fiction, and fantasy in one interesting read. I looked forward to this book with anticipation because it contains two elements that I find intriguing – regression therapy and Anne Boleyn. The author weaves the various plot tangents into a smooth thread that will delight a reader.

The story opens with Lydia, the protagonist, experiencing terrible nightmares from which she gets little relief. Her boyfriend, Dan, is at a loss as to what to do to help her. At his wits’ end, he introduces her to a colleague, Alan Stokes. Stokes initiates regression therapy. Kallio does not dwell on the technical aspects of the regression, which keeps the storyline moving. At first, we learn the story of Elisabeth Beeton through Lydia’s dreams – both waking and nighttime. Later, Elisabeth’s story comes alive through the regression sessions.

The characters in the story are well-developed. Lydia’s anguish and confusion about her dreams can be felt – it jumps off the page at you. After initially trying to ignore the dreams, she becomes determined to find out the reason why she keeps having these nightmares. At first, her goal is to stop her dreams. Once she receives a journal that seems to have been written by the girl in her dreams, an obsession takes over her life. Nothing will stop her from finding out more about the real Elisabeth and why Elisabeth haunts her dreams.

I enjoyed watching Lydia’s character evolve through the course of the novel. The transformation is believable and occurs over time. At first, I had trouble with Lydia’s seemingly weak acceptance of certain events in the story, but as the plot progressed, I was able to see her character changing. The backstory of Lydia’s family is also handled well. Characters are developed who are not directly “on-stage” in the story. When Lydia gets to England, I already felt like I knew the family that she meets.

Central to the story is the life of Anne Boleyn. Boleyn’s story is told from the point of view of her maidservant, Elisabeth. Tudor England’s intrigues are brought to life in brilliant color as the author uses Elisabeth to answer several of history’s mysteries. I felt part of the court as I read the segments of the story dealing with Elisabeth.

Kallio’s story idea is creative. It is apparent that she has studied her time period, and she does an excellent job of crafting believable dialogue. Changes in the dialogue were seamless, and I was able to easily switch between the two parallel worlds without any problem. The mystery of why Lydia is having the dreams about Anne and Elisabeth is not solved until end of the novel. There is also an intriguing twist at the end the reader will not expect.

While description is always important in a novel, Kallio does not make the mistake of slowing her story down with unnecessary narrative. She gave me just enough description to set the scene in my mind’s eye, but not so much that I found myself flipping forward to see where the description ended. Her
scenes are vivid and easily pictured, whether a scene set in Elisabeth’s Tudor time or one set in Lydia’s modern world.

The story takes the reader on a journey from Canada to the United States, before finally finishing in England. While in the United States, the story could have benefited from a tighter pacing, but overall, Kallio does a good job of keeping the plot moving. While some of the resolutions seemed rushed to me, the ending does tie up all the loose ends of the plot. No questions are left unanswered.

Betrayal is a tapestry of suspense and history woven together with believable characters. I would recommend this book to anyone, and I hope future readers derive as much enjoyment from this novel as I have. Fans of the Tudor time period will enjoy the book for its sympathetic portrayal of Anne Boleyn, George Boleyn, and even Jane Boleyn.

There are two covers on Amazon, and I was a bit confused until I noticed that one of these versions is an updated version, so if you are downloading the book I suggest that you go with the updated version. I enjoyed reading this novel, and I hope Ms. Kallio writes another one soon.

Kristie Dean, author of Lessons from Jericho, is also a history buff and avid traveler. She is currently working on her next project, a non-fiction book about Richard III for Amberley publishing. The book's Facebook page can be found here.

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  1. A very comprehensive review giving me a real flavour of the book.

  2. I shall read this. As I enjoy good time slips on my list. Lovely cover and excellent review.