Monday 11 April 2022

Have a sneak-peek between the covers of Helen Hollick's fabulous novel - When The Mermaid Sings (A prequel story to The Sea Witch Voyages) #excerpt #BlogTour #HistoricalFantasy @HelenHollick


When The Mermaid Sings
(A prequel story to The Sea Witch Voyages)
By Helen Hollick

Publication Date: 21st June 2021
Publisher: Taw River Press
Page Length: 190 Pages
Genre: Historical/Nautical Fantasy

A prequel short read story to the Sea Witch Voyages of Captain Jesamiah Acorne

When the only choice is to run, where do you run to?
When the only sound is the song of the sea, do you listen?
Or do you drown in the embrace of a mermaid?

Throughout childhood, Jesamiah Mereno has suffered the bullying of his elder half-brother. Then, not quite fifteen years old, and on the day they bury their father, Jesamiah hits back. In consequence, he flees his Virginia home, changes his name to Jesamiah Acorne, and joins the crew of his father’s seafaring friend, Captain Malachias Taylor, aboard the privateer, Mermaid.

He makes enemies, sees the ghost of his father, wonders who is the Cornish girl he hears in his mind – and tries to avoid the beguiling lure of a sensuous mermaid...

An early coming-of-age tale of the young Jesamiah Acorne, set in the years before he becomes a pirate and Captain of the Sea Witch.

“Ms Hollick has skillfully picked up the threads that she alludes to in the main books and knitted them together to create a Jesamiah that we really didn't know.” Richard Tearle senior reviewer, Discovering Diamonds

“Captain Jesamiah Acorne is as charming a scoundrel as a fictional pirate should be. A resourceful competitor to Captain Jack Sparrow!” Antoine Vanner author

“Helen Hollick has given us the answer to that intriguing question that Jesamiah fans have been aching for – how did he start his sea-going career as a pirate?” Alison Morton, author

“I really enjoyed the insight offered into Jesamiah's backstory, and found the depiction of our teenage hero very moving.” Anna Belfrage, author

“I loved this little addendum to the Jesamiah series. I always had a soft spot for the Lorelei stories and enjoyed that the author cleverly brought her over from the Rhine valley to fit into the story.” Amazon Reviewer


A brief bit about the Sea Witch Voyages: 
I wrote the first Voyage (Sea Witch) back in 2005 after thoroughly enjoying the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Like most avid readers, however, I wanted more than just the movie, I wanted to read something that was as entertaining and as exciting. A nautical adventure with a charming rogue of a pirate captain, written for adults (with adult content) but with a dash of supernatural fantasy as well – elements of which had made that first movie such fun to watch. I found many nautical-based novels, but they were all ‘serious stuff’ – Patrick O’Brian, Alexander Kent, C. S. Forrester ... all good reads but without the fantasy fun, and barely a female character in sight. I simply could not find the book I wanted to read. So, I wrote my own.

The first Voyage led to more books in the series, and also generated several emails from fans who wanted to know how Jesamiah had become a pirate in the first place.

When the Mermaid Sings answers that question.

Virginia, Summer 1708

What was left of Acorn rolled to starboard and disappeared into the water with nothing more than a final hiss of steam and a few agitated bubbles to mark where she had sunk.

“Tck. Such a shame. Your only possession gone up in smoke. How unfortunate.”

Jesamiah turned slowly to stare with loathing at his half-brother, Phillipe, his figure dark against the cast of light shining from the house. They shared a father and that was all; there was nothing else between them. Nothing beyond mutual hatred.

Phillipe stepped closer, his head cocked arrogantly high and slightly to one side, his hands clutched behind his back, the very figure of importance. “You are neglecting my guests by skulking out here, Jesamiah. I will not have you shame me by your impoliteness. Return within and see to your duty.”

“I hate you,” Jesamiah said in a low voice, ignoring the command. “You set fire to her. You deliberately destroyed my boat.”

“Now, why would I do that?” Phillipe jeered, waving one hand towards the river with mocking indignation. The congenial face he had shown to the guests had become a contemptuous sneer. 
“Why would I want you to have nothing? No boat, no home, no mother? And now no father for you to go whimpering to when you think life has been treating you unfairly. So sad to find yourself suddenly destitute.”

Jesamiah wanted to hit this pompous codpiece. Wanted to hit and hit, and never stop. If only he had the courage.

Recognising the wanting, Phillipe laughed. He had seen that look so many times before and knew this shrimp did not have the guts to fight back.

“If Father only knew what you had done…” Jesamiah snarled.

“Father?” The laughter increased. “It is Father’s fault that the boat is gone. He ought to have ensured it passed to me, not you. If it had been mine, I need not have destroyed it. But I could not let you keep it, could I?”

Jesamiah clenched his fists. Almost seven years the elder, Phillipe was taller and stronger than he, and the beatings endured at his hands through the years were more than just scars on Jesamiah’s body.

The sneer across Phillipe’s mouth widened. He leant forward. “Would you be thinking of threatening me? We both know where that will lead, do we not?”

Relaxing his fingers, Jesamiah wiped at his face with his sleeve, spreading the tear-streaked grime of soot and smoke further. It was his only good coat, worn for the funeral. His mother had sewn it for him, embroidering the matching waistcoat with green oak leaves and tiny brown acorns. They had been special symbols for her, the oak and the acorn, for she said they brought good fortune. That was why her boat had been called Acorn.

The good fortune had obviously run out.

Phillipe noticed the tears; slapped his palm several times against Jesamiah’s cheek. “Aw, has my little brother been mewling?” He grasped Jesamiah’s chin, pressed hard into the flesh. “Tears? How pathetic.”

He grinned, then lunging forward, clamped his hand on Jesamiah’s shoulder, forcing him away from the river and up the slope towards the fenced area of the family graveyard. Until today, there had only been the one grave: that of Jesamiah’s mother, buried there one week ago. Now, beside it, lay a newly-filled grave for their father.

“Let’s show your mother how sad you are at losing your tub of a boat, shall we?” Phillipe said, shaking Jesamiah as if he were a caught rat. “Let’s visit her one last time before I throw you off this plantation for good. Sorenta is mine now and I do not want you here or anywhere near me, Virginia, or the Colonies. Is that clear?”

Trying to resist, to throw him off, Jesamiah tripped and fell, jarring his knee on a stone. Not waiting for him to get up, Phillipe grasped Jesamiah’s black, curly hair and dragged him the last few yards through the gate in the white-painted picket fence.

(edited: original excerpt contains adult language)

How I met Jesamiah Acorne (the tru-ish) story:

This novel is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription.

First published in 1994, Helen became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) with the sequel, Harold the King (US: I Am The Chosen King) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she writes a nautical adventure/fantasy series, The Sea Witch Voyages. She is now branching out into the quick read novella, 'Cosy Mystery' genre with her new venture, the Jan Christopher Murder Mysteries, set in the 1970s, with the first in the series, A Mirror Murder incorporating her, often hilarious, memories of working as a library assistant.

Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales and Life of A Smuggler. She lives in an eighteenth-century farmhouse in North Devon, runs Discovering Diamonds, a review blog for historical fiction, and occasionally gets time to write... 

Connect with Helen:

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx