Lydia Hamilton is a hospital office worker in present-day Canada, secure, grounded, in love—and tormented at night by vivid dreams of a vastly different time and place. These dreams often feature bloody, gruesome details (although there are also quite lovely aspects—warm summer sunlight in a beautiful garden, etc.), and eventually it becomes clear even to stubborn Lydia that she can’t keep ignoring them. “Dreams are ephemeral,” her therapist tells her, but her visceral reactions warn her otherwise, and she begins a course of hypnotherapy designed to dredge up repressed memories—which in Lydia’s case seem more and more to center not on her childhood but on the year 1529 in the England of King Henry VIII.
Debut author Kallio alternates present-day chapters in Betrayal with these historical chapters featuring a Tudor servant woman named Elisabeth Beeton, and she does such a deft job at interweaving the two that readers will be eagerly reading long before they begin to sense the complicated relationships here between the present and the past. Noted Tudor personages—haughty Anne Boleyn, weak and conniving Lady Jane Rochford, and most of all the magisterially devious Thomas Cromwell (familiar to a whole new generation of historical fiction readers through Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall)—feature prominently in the historical parts of Kallio’s novel, and it’s a testament to her narrative skill that the contemporary parts manage to be every bit as interesting. Betrayal is highly recommended.