Having Justin and his stories is always a pleasure, and there’s not one cover of his I don’t adore.
The Abdication by Justin Newland released in July in the Supernatural Thriller genre.
The town of Unity sits perched on the edge of a yawning ravine where, long ago, a charisma of angels provided spiritual succour to a fledgeling human race. Then mankind was granted the gift of free will and had to find its own way, albeit with the guidance of the angels. The people’s first conscious act was to make an exodus from Unity – they built a rope bridge across the ravine and founded the town of Topeth. For a time, the union between the people of Topeth and the angels of Unity was one of mutual benefit. After that early spring advance, there had been a torrid decline in which mankind’s development resembled a crumpled, fading autumnal leaf.
Following the promptings of an inner voice, Tula, a young woman from the city, trudges into Topeth. Her quest is to abide with the angels and thereby discover the right and proper exercise of free will. To do that, she has to cross the bridge – and overcome her vertigo.
Topeth is in upheaval; the townsfolk blame the death of a child on dust from the nearby copper mines. The priests have convinced them that a horde of devils have thrown the angels out of Unity and now occupy the bridge, possessing anyone who trespasses on it. Then there’s the heinous Temple of Moloch!
The Abdication is the story of Tula’s endeavour to step upon the path of a destiny far greater than she could ever have imagined.
3. The Lights of the Future
It was late when Tula got back to Geb and Sarah’s and she went straight to her room. She found it hard to sleep and lay there tossing and turning, plagued by the unnerving way the evening had unfolded and then by more squealing noises coming from outside the window.
Witches of Unity was how Irit had described the angels. Now, they were witches from whom the curse on Topeth derived. Her words were another dent in Tula’s faith in the seraphic beings.
The other day, Damien had returned from Unity with a strange object wrapped in a cloth to avoid identification. He had secretly despatched Rufus to the mining lab, so it must have been a piece of ore. Damien’s family had a history of wanting to explore Unity. That greed had cost his father, Marcus, his life, thirty years before. The town of Unity was sacred, as was the land of Suria, so surely that intrusion could not happen again.
Her understanding of the history of the town made little or no sense because some essential pieces of the puzzle were missing. She had no idea where to find them, what they looked like, or was even sure, if she saw them, whether she would recognise them for what they truly were.
The good folk of Topeth laboured under an illusion, that what she believed were angels were in fact devils, terrible entities who protected their domain, their town, their Unity, by throwing people off the bridge or rendering them insane.
AUTHOR Bio and Links: Justin Newland is an author of historical fantasy and secret history thrillers – that’s history with a supernatural twist. His stories feature known events and real people from history which are re-told and examined through the lens of the supernatural. He gives author talks and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio Bristol’s Thought for the Day. He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.
What piece(s) of literature inspired (or found a place) in this story, The Abdication?
Well, that’s a difficult one. Because this novel, The Abdication, although it was my fourth, was a new venture for me. My first novel was mythological fiction, while my second and third were a hybrid genre called secret history thriller, that’s history with a supernatural twist.
The Abdication was new for me for two reasons. First, it’s only loosely based in history – it’s set in the Middle East in the Biblical town of Topeth, but other than that, the novel only makes a few other references to history, although one notable exception is to the Ancient Hebrew deity, Moloch. More of him later. The second reason is that it was the first novel I’ve written which has a single point-of-view character – the others had multiple point-of-view characters. So, structurally, the novel posed new and different obstacles for me, which I felt ready to overcome.
Because The Abdication is not a historical novel per se, I didn’t have to carry out as much research – or read as much about that historical period – as I would have done if it had been set in say, Ancient Egypt, like my first novel.
I like to include some subtle allusions in my novels, which I see from reviews that some people get, and others don’t. I don’t mind that; a novel is like a mirror, you hold it up, and often it reflects back to you things you knew already, but sometimes it might configure events and characters in such a way that you see things and understand matters from a new perspective. That’s my aim, to hold up a sort of generic mirror, where people can see and make of it what they will. Even down to how they interpret the ending.
One of the allusions was to the Sophocles’ play, Oedipus Rex. But that’s all I am going to say about it, because if I say any more, it might be a spoiler.
I did do some research for the novel though. In this, as in my other novels, the place, the setting of the novel, is almost a character in its own right, and the setting of The Abdication is no different. The location is a gaping ravine with the town of Unity on one side of it, and Topeth on the other. The towns are joined by a rope bridge. I did research Inca rope bridges, what they are made of, how they are constructed, and how they are maintained.
Another feature, as I mentioned earlier, is the dark and foreboding figure of Moloch, an ancient Hebrew deity whose figure adorns the book cover. In the novel, I wanted to make a point about childhood, and how we, as a people, a nation, and a society, think about childhood. I wanted a figure that provided a shock value, and without going into any more detail, Moloch fitted the bill perfectly.
In the end, we are what we think we are, what our parents tell us we are, and what our education tells us we are. Like my other novels, The Abdication is about identity. In it, I wanted to explore such questions as: who are we? What does it mean to be human? Is there a deity? If so, what is our relation to him/her/it? And, just as intriguing, what is the nature of the times in which we live?
In the novel, the rope bridge is a simple metaphor for the connection between humanity, and something else, something higher, angels no less, who provide the means and the impetus for us to climb, step by step, the ladder of creation.
This post is part of a tour. The tour dates can be found here:
- a Paperback copy of the book (International giveaway)