Get Out or Die


The narrator of this mystery, set in Brigantia in Northern England in 91 AD, pulled me into her story immediately with her lively and engaging voice. Aurelia Marcella is in charge of a mansio, a guest-house and posting station, about 15 miles from what is now York. Her father brought his family to this area a dozen years before, after the eruption of Vesuvius destroyed their home in Pompeii. Normally the Oak Tree Mansio does a good business, but all of a sudden terror strikes the neighborhood with the discovery of a wounded man, left for dead, and a beheaded man. More headless corpses, all Romans, begin to appear, just as young Brigante warriors start to flex their muscles. The terror escalates as reports of a man in a skull mask begin to circulate, and warnings are left to Romans to “get out or die.”

The author does a good job of portraying tensions between natives and Romans, while being careful to show that a range of emotions was held by members of each side. The story encompasses spying and treachery, romance, heroism, and a vivid historical sense (the author includes a section at the end of the book which explains what is known about the area during the time in which the story is set). What more could a reader ask for?



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12 of the best stories selected from the 2012 Historical Novel Society Short Story Award







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