When Alison Morton asked me to take a look at her new book, Insurrectio, a few months ago, my first reaction was guilt because I’d been meaning to read her previous four books for ages. Like the rest of us, my pile of books to be read is very daunting but now I had the opportunity, so I dived in and I was very glad I did!
By starting with Insurrectio, I was sort of starting in the wrong place really, but I found that this was by no means a problem. It was easy to get into the book, into the story and – just as importantly – into the alternative world of Roma Nova which is a sort of modern day remnant of the Roman Empire.
Insurrectio is a fast moving, political thriller with plenty of action thrown in. It was especially interesting for me because it takes place in a different world which Alison has created very skilfully. I read both modern thrillers and historical fiction and, of course, this book does not quite fit into either category because it is alternative history. That aspect somehow made it even more interesting.
Overall, I was very impressed with both the story and the world in which it is set.
Having read and enjoyed Insurrectio, I intended to read the rest of the Roma Nova stories. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a copy of Alison’s first book, Inceptio, when I was in London at a ‘do’ organised by the Society of Authors. Since I’d been intending to read it for ages, it seemed like kismet. I was not disappointed.
Inceptio is an exciting and absorbing story but with a difference. I already knew about Roma Nova, of course, but in this book – the first one of the series – I saw it emerge through the experiences of the main character. Where Alison succeeds brilliantly, in my view, is in describing this new world to the reader by drip-feeding elements of it to our heroine, Karen Brown, who lives in New York. The reader, like Karen, explores Roma Nova, at first with a little bewilderment, but then with more confidence, as the nature of the place and its customs are cleverly revealed.
We are rooting for Karen Brown within a few lines of her introduction but there is plenty of mystery and suspense along the way as the story unfolds. The leading characters are well drawn and they ring true, despite populating an imaginary world!
I really enjoyed Inceptio and will certainly be reading the sequels.
You can find out more about Alison Morton’s Roma Nova books by visiting her website: http://alison-morton.com