I always felt most alive, when I was healing. Without healing I was a tin top spinning out of kilter soon to catch the ground. It took all my energy to hold myself from skidding into chaos.
But in the city of Pharsis traditional women healers are banned from practising and the penalty for breaking the law is death by hanging. After being arrested and interrogated twice, Judith is careful to avoid suspicion, but then scarlet fever breaks over the city like a poisonous wave, leaving in its wake the small corpses of children. What will the young healer do?
In this study in grief, love and defiance we follow Judith as she searches for ingredients to make perfumes and medicines, for her place in a man’s world, and for the love and respect she needs and deserves.
Love of Shadows is the second novel in The Healer’s Shadow Magical Realism Series, which began with Girl in the Glass, and follows the lives of Judith and her Shadow, Sarah. The trilogy concludes with The Company of Shadows.
INTERVIEW WITH ZOE BROOKS
How would you categorize the Healer’s Shadow series?
With difficulty. It wasn’t until I published Girl in the Glass that a reader pointed out it was a magical realism novel. But if you search for magic realism novels on Amazon you will see that they can be in all sorts of genres. In this case I would say that the genre is probably women’s literary fiction, even feminist fiction.
Why create a fantasy setting for the book?
I was inspired by women writers like Angela Carter, Alice Hoffman and Ursula Le Guin, who have shown that speculative or fantasy fiction novels can offer a great way to explore important themes in a way that is entertaining and imaginative. Magical realism is particularly good for this.
Tell us a bit about Judith?
I wanted to create a strong female lead, which I did – Judith is a survivor, a battler – but she has her flaws and her weaknesses. She certainly isn’t easy to live with. As this book opens Judith is struggling with the grief she feels at the death of her mentor. Because of her past, she reacts to the situation by rejecting the person closest to her and getting into a relationship with someone she should avoid. She is particularly like that in her relationships with men. But maybe there is a man who can get past her defences and give her the love she needs.
What inspired the storyline in this book?
I was inspired by the history of women healers and their suppression in the 16th – 17th centuries. These wise women were persecuted (and killed) as witches. I wanted to give Judith a calling which brings her into danger and which is an expression of her womanhood. There is a more general theme of persecution of people who are different.
Shadows are at the heart of this book, can you tell us more about them?
The idea of Shadows and their humans was the first thing that came to me when I started writing the Judith’s story. It’s what gives the three books their magic realism, and it also makes them metaphysical novels. Judith finds out a lot about Shadows during the course of this book and even more in book three.
I notice that you are now calling these books a series – it was a trilogy. Does this change mean there are going to be more stories?
Yes, I hope so. If you want to be notified of the latest releases, please sign up for the newsletter here.