Diana Jackson’s second instalment in the Riduna series, Ancasta, will appeal to those with a taste for romantic historical novels or family sagas. Set in the early twentieth century, this rigorously researched novel tells the Newton family’s story during a period of great adversity.
Following the death of her husband, Harriet’s grownup children journey to their father’s birthplace, the island of Sarnia, where a deep interest in her parents’ past is awoken in Harriet’s daughter, Sarah. Choosing to stay on after her three brothers return to their mother and their own families, Sarah embarks on a pilgrimage to the neighbouring island of Riduna in an attempt to connect to her mother’s untold history. Sarah’s exploration of independence however, is merely the beginning of a tale, which sees her family separated over continents by war. The safety of all is at risk and both mother and daughter are faced with the secret past of the beguiling Riduna.
In short this novel shows great promise though the presentation of historical fact is, in some instances, barely disguised within the flow of the narrative, and issues with the presentation of the book do sadly let it down. The cover for example is incoherent in the message it sends to its audience and does little to express the more stirring elements of the plot, which drive the story. Moreover there are grammatical errors in evidence throughout – including a spelling mistake in the blurb and paragraph breaks mid-sentence – which undermine the otherwise most praiseworthy accomplishments of the author. A final polish in these areas would make this a commendable book.