Betrayal: Historical Stories

Written by Alison Morton Amy Maroney Anna Belfrage Cryssa Bazos Derek Birks Helen Hollick Judith Arnopp
Review by Xina Marie Uhl

An anthology of twelve stories from twelve different historical authors, each story in Betrayal involves—you guessed it—betrayal of some sort. The tales span the ages, from the 5th century CE to the present day, with the majority of the stories taking place from the 14th to the 18th centuries.

While each of the stories is professionally written and flush with historical atmosphere, the following stood out to me. “Death at the Feet of Venus” by Derek Birks, is an action-packed, authentic tale about a Roman Dux in 5th-century Britannia. “Love to Hatred Turn’d” by Annie Whitehead, set in the Anglo-Saxon court, provides a sweeping scope, fine period details, and beautiful writing. “A Knight’s Tale” by Charlene Newcomb, my favorite piece, is a gritty, unabashedly sexy portrait of a 12th-century knight’s gay relationships, with a bittersweet edge. Anna Belfrage’s “All Those Tangled Webs” involves court machinations in 14th-century England, engagingly written and poignant, if a bit overburdened with characters. Judith Arnopp’s exploration of treason against King Richard III, “House Arrest,” is cleverly written. Another favorite of mine, “A Not So Bonny Betrayal” by Helen Hollick, revolves around 18th-century pirates and the character of rowdy, lusty Anne Bonny, making it an entertaining and surprising read.

Other subjects include the reign of Henry IV, Cyprus and Greece in the 15th century, dark doings in the Tower of London, privateer Francis Drake, scandalous highwaymen, and an alternative history of Rome.

For those who enjoy vivid short fiction, sampling new authors, and experiencing a variety of times, places, and situations, you can’t go wrong picking up a copy of this delightful anthology.