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In the misty highlands of fourth century Scotland, two Pictish brothers conspire with the Ancient People from beyond the Great Wall to attack the Romans.

Roman power in Britannia is weakening. Brothers Brei and Taran, Princes and warriors of a Pictish Kingdom, seek revenge against the Romans for attacking their city, killing their father, and taking their mother as a slave. The sudden arrival of Sorsha, a mysterious woman with an incredible gift, sets the brothers on a path to warfare.

A Painted Winter is book one of the four-part Pictish Conspiracy series. H. Barnard’s debut novel blends historical fiction and Celtic mythology in a thrilling adventure that will leave you wondering who the real barbarians are ….

Title : A Painted Winter
Author : H. Barnard
Series : Pictish Conspiracy #1
Format : Physical
Page Count : 340
Genre : Historical
Publisher : Shadowfax Publishing
Release Date : December 21, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 4 star review

Mysterious and magical
Druidic powers
It’s grim up north

I am not experienced in politics or warfare, but it seems to me that we first create a barbarian, an enemy, and then we take away their lands.

A Painted Winter was impressively easy to read for what could have been quite a heavy historical read, but wasn’t. I’ve found myself drawn to this era of history through a few books in the last year such as Gawain, Daughter of the Forest and The Look of a King. The Pictish/English divide and a more ancient time in history where powers of the earth were harnessed through druids, is pretty fascinating.

This story was a dual POV told from a Pictish Prince Brei and a lost but found woman from the south, Sorsha. I was much more drawn to Sorsha’s story, her POV but we needed Brei’s perspective for the grand plot of the tale. Brei wasn’t a character I liked, I was much more interested in Taran. Other sketchy characters included Serenn and Anwen.

I couldn’t help but internally cheer for Sorsha as she came into her gifts, felt more empowered and followed her path. She was strong and a fascinating character, I think there’s so much more to her yet that the reader doesn’t know and I look forward to reading more about her.

This read felt well researched and immersed you in Pictish life with some later Roman perspective. The historical elements were incredibly strong. I think my other reading in this era helped my understanding of the druid workings, even though in this book, they were depicted as being rather nefarious.

All in all, this has been a great debut and I definitely want to read more. Thank you to Shadowfax Publishing and InstaBookTours for the review copy.

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