Today we are participating in the Blog Tour for the new novel by Carol Oates, Shades of Avalon. It’s prequel, Shades of Atlantis, took the reader from Maine, where brother and sister Triona and Ben Pryor grew up, to England and then eventually to the author’s native country, Ireland. Shades of Avalon taps into the popular Celtic tales of Excalibur, King Arthur, Merlin, Camelot, and Guinevere. The author enjoys her Irish heritage and exploring the history of Ireland, so her readers are fortunate to benefit from this and have so much of Ireland’s countryside and Irish myth weaved into her books.
Here’s a little history of Ireland in Hollywood that Carol wishes to share today!
Excalibur Drive and the Powerscourt Estate served as inspiration for a backdrop during the final chapters of Shades of Avalon. A journey took in some of the route, passed through the village of Enniskerry and ended at Powerscourt. As hard as I tried, I doubt I did the scenery justice. (A/N: Looks amazing to us!)
The island of Ireland has a thriving film industry. One place in particular has proven extremely popular and adaptable for the screen. From granite peaks reaching 2,500 feet, to untouched blog lands, to beautiful beaches, quaint villages, waterfalls, lakes, forests, valleys, wildlife, and enchanting estates, Wicklow, known as “The Garden of Ireland,” has it all.
Also, with two film studios, it’s not at all surprising filmmakers have been coming to Wicklow from all over the world since the early days of film. Everyone who’s anyone has filmed here, including Fred Astaire, Richard Burton, Katherine Hepburn, James Cagney, Meryl Streep, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Liam Nelson…even this year’s Best Actor—Matthew McConaughey. But he’s not the only Oscar winner. Dozens of Academy Award winners and nominees have come from Wicklow productions. Ten years before The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola directed his first movie in Wicklow.
Productions filmed in Ireland include:
- A Game of Thrones (Belfast)
- Saving Private Ryan (Wexford)
- Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (Clare)
- The Princess Bride (Clare)
- Moby Dick (Cork)
- Hellboy 2 (Antrim)
- Dracula Untold (2014) (Belfast)
Productions filmed in Wicklow include:
- The Crying Game
- A Lion in Winter
- The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
- The Count of Monte Cristo
- Becoming Jane
- King Arthur
- The Tudors
That’s just a fraction. And, of course, there’s the 1981 epic production of Excalibur, which brings us to Excalibur Drive, a 42 mile round trip that takes in dramatic cliffs, valleys, and loughs.
- highest village in Ireland (Roundwood)
- tallest waterfall at Powerscourt
- 19th century Italian gardens at Powerscourt
- oldest established seaside town at Bray
Chick Kitt’s Review with Limited Spoilers
Because I loved Shades of Atlantis, I have always been thrilled about Carol’s forthcoming sequel. I wanted to stay longer in the world from this book! When it ended, I felt like I had just ‘met’ so many interesting characters and hated to say goodbye without getting to know them fully. But finding out that the POV was switching from Triona to her younger brother Ben’s POV for Shades of Avalon made me a little hesitant. I had enjoyed the love story between Triona and Caleb and diving into this world Carol created where the fringes of magic, myth, and legend had met and tied together for an engaging story. As a female reading a female protagonist, I was able to feel the love story a certain way, claim the experience. With the POV switched to Ben, a 19-year-old guy, in Shades of Avalon, I guess I wasn’t sure I would get the same amount of emotion and plot from the book.
When I began to read Shades of Atlantis, I was hooked immediately, knowing I was driven by my own heart’s desire to see the love story through and reach some kind of HEA for the female protagonist. In reading the sequel through Ben’s eyes, I found myself driven more so by a sense of adventure–the journey, thrill, and excitement! And that’s what you’ll find in this book–a fantastic journey of magical beings, Arthurian legend, a well-developed plot, and surprising interaction between all the characters, all the while, with the underlying simplistic tenderness of the bonds of love–old, new, and renewed.
The next chapter in the Shades series begins with an elaborate act of revenge against Triona that results in Caleb being captured. Triona’s immediate and “extended family” is brought together to plan how to get Caleb back, even if it comes to a battle. I say ‘extended family’ because characters, old and new, are added along the way, each with their own specific skill set or knowledge playing a part in the planning. So why is the story told from Ben’s POV? Because ultimately, he has the most to learn and discover about himself, and everyone within his family has something to teach him. He’s like an older Percy Jackson but with Celtic roots. He’s a Celtic Luke Skywalker who must learn to use the force to prepare for the battle between good and evil. Ben’s self-discoveries are not limited to what he can do as a Guardian. He seems to inherently struggle with his new life as both a husband and Guardian, constantly protesting the extra effort and sacrifices it requires from him. It’s only when he is finally willing to accept his new life on Destiny’s terms rather than his own, that he is able to fully embrace all that he can do and claim his important role within his growing family.
And make no mistake, this book is about a family forged from lineage, sacrifice, strength, support, teaching and love. And at the heart of that family is the relationship between Triona and Caleb–soul mates who form a magical super couple. Though Caleb has been captured at the beginning of this book, later on Caleb and Ben share a very interesting scene that results in this:
There are plenty of twists, drama and deeper levels of the relationships explored along the way that make Shades of Avalon such a fun and fantastic read! And with Carol’s beautiful writing, it’s a book that can be appreciated by all ages. Here is a small passage, no doubt inspired by the pictures Carol shared above, that shows just how pleasing her words are to read:
The sky had turned dark blue with dots of white light speckled across it. The sun dipped over the horizon, leaving only a pale streak of light behind. The surrounding countryside reflected off the still lake as though the liquid was black glass. Another time the setting would have been idyllic, an old English country mansion set into a picturesque valley, the fabricated attempting to dominate nature and coming up short. Right now none of us were in the frame of mind to appreciate it. In the absence of rain clouds, we created our own. The atmosphere around us sucked the life out of the air, leaving it stale and lifeless.
There is so much going on in this story with both a buildup to a mysterious final showdown and a continuus unraveling of details right until the very end! I’m certain you’ll love this book and that it will leave you hungry for the third one!
Bookmark this post, because you’ll want to come back later and read this …
EXCLUSIVE OUTTAKE from Shades of Avalon
(Triona Returns to London)
The door of the coffee shop creaked when I pushed it open. It probably wasn’t loud enough for humans to notice but the high pitched squeak made my teeth ache.
“I’m sorry. I was just closing up,” the young girl behind the counter said, annunciating each word in a smooth British accent. I wasn’t inclined to narrow the origin further.
The place was empty, but just how I remembered it. My eyes darted to the table I’d been sitting at the day I’d been convinced I saw Caleb across the street. The attractive man at the next table had noticed my distress and chased me outside. It turned out John wasn’t a customer; he owned the coffee shop.
Rain drizzled over London and had soaked my hair and chilled me to the bone during the walk from the Underground station. I hadn’t slept on the flight and it gave me time to reconsider. Perhaps Ben had a point and seeing John—allowing him to see me—was a bad idea. I couldn’t be sure what effect it would have on his memories.
I raked sodden hair from my face with both hands and bit my lip when another wave of anguish threatened to well up. The painful lump in my chest wouldn’t dislodge, but I ignored it as best I could. I refuse to relinquish control of this situation to some random Guardian watchdog. I’d exposed John to my world and he was my responsibility.
“I could make you some tea?” the girl offered, her ruby lips twisting up on one side. “Are you okay?”
A panicked laugh escaped before I could stop it. She came out from behind the counter. The shock of red slicing through her short black hair caught the light and gleamed. Fake eyelashes batted like butterflies fluttering their wings.
Some part of me must have thought something of Caleb would be here. Maybe that I could feel him here like I had that day. But I didn’t, and the hollow left behind by his absence caused a fissure to open in my heart.
“Do you need some help?”
“No, I can handle it.” I turned to leave. I had John’s address, although I’d never been to his home. It’d been one means of keeping him at a distance, of not allowing him to insert me into his life.
“That’s what everyone says…until they can’t,” she said and closed the door, smiling up at me. “Let me make you that tea.”
I nodded, but flinched when she touched my arm. The girl drew back and pointed over to a table. My entire body was a live wire, a bundle of nerves stretched as tightly as guitar strings.
The chairs were turned upside down on the tables and I spotted a mop and bucket in the corner. Obviously I’d disturbed her, but tea and a moment to gather myself sounded good. I pulled a chair down and sat while the girl busied herself behind the counter. A few moments later she placed a steaming mug of black tea in front of me and handed over a wad of paper towel.
“To dry off…” A dark eyebrow arched in question.
Her expression shifted to surprise so fleetingly that I almost missed it. Her brown eyes narrowed as she stood back, her gaze passing over me carefully. She huffed, as though unimpressed with what she saw, before returning to the counter. “Emma,” she said, hoisting herself up to sit with her legs dangling. Thick-soled boots knocked against the wood.
“You’re John’s sister.” It wasn’t a question. Now she’d given me a name, I knew I’d seen those brown eyes before. Although painted in black and green make-up, they were John’s eyes. Her hair had been the same golden as his in the picture he’d shown to me. She’d been a few years younger too. It seemed she also shared his kindness to strangers.
“And you’re the girl who broke my brother’s heart.” There was more than a note of a challenge in her voice and I rose to it.
“I don’t think I did that.”
She laughed with a mocking smile and leaned back on her hands. “Oh come on, just us girls here now. No need to come over all coy. He pretends like he hardly knew you. Like it’s too painful to acknowledge all that time you spent together.”
I looked down to the wisps of stream rising from the mug and recalled the dark mist descending on the Hill of Tara. He didn’t want to be a part of that world.
“What, you thought I didn’t know about you. I was in boarding school in France, not on Mars.” Emma sighed. “I should warn you. He’s not what you remember.”
My head shot up. “What do you mean?”
Her nose scrunched and a ruby piercing on one side glistened. “You’ll see.” She paused and her brow crinkled. “That is what you’re here for isn’t it? You came to see Johnny?”
I nodded and she clucked her tongue, hopping down with a quiet thump. Emma dipped her head to one side. “Why do I get the feeling trouble is about to get very real around here?”
As always, we wish to thank both Carol Oates and Traci from Omnific Publishing for giving us the opportunity to help promote this series!
Don’t miss out on your chance to win tons of fabulous prizes in this giveaway hosted by Carol and Omnific.