Menina Walker is nineteen and engaged to be married, fortune has always smiled on her. She was rescued after a devastating hurricane leveled her village in South America, wearing a swallow pendant, the only possession she had left. Menina was then adopted and raised by a loving family in the United States.
After tragedy strikes a second time, Menina flees to Spain to bury her misery in research for her college thesis about a sixteenth-century artist who signed his works with the image of a swallow—the same image as the one on Menina’s medal.
This is a compelling story that effectively weaves the past and present together in a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I could not put this book down and ended up reading it in twelve hours one rainy Saturday. The story, which is set in both Spain and the Americas, is full of rich and colorful descriptions as well as being extremely well-plotted. The story as a whole works together, but I found the parts of the story set in the past more interesting than those set in present time and I suspect that Ms. Bryan may have thought so as well. Once she ties things up in the past, she rushes thought the last couple of chapters set in the present to finish the story. Despite this rush to the finish line, the story holds up very well and the ending is satisfying.
This is a tremendously well written book with strong female protagonists and a mystery that spans centuries. The prose is so immersive that I found myself shivering when the characters were cold, wet and/or scared and laughing with delight when they did and I thought I could taste the dust and smell the burning candles!
You do not have to be a history buff to find this novel of interest. The mystery at the heart of the story is meaty enough to grab any readers’ attention. I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars with the one star deducted for the rush to end the story.
Helen Bryan was born in the US and currently lives in London where she worked as a Barrister until she began her writing career. She has written several other books including a biography titled, “Martha Washington Lady of Liberty” and a novel set in an East Sussex village called, “War Brides”.
This book was released in April, 2013 and published by Lake Union Publishing. It is available as an electronic download or a paperback.