Martha Bigalow, wanting to get her noxious ex-boyfriend out of her mind, decided to take a hike in the English Lakes District. While crossing a stream, she slipped and fell, and woke up in a cave with a dark stranger who looked like a medieval reenactor gone native. But, Vadim is not a reenactor, he’s an outlaw, and it’s Martha who has gone native; she’s been somehow transported back in time to Erde, a society that’s as alien and unsettling as her life in the twenty-first century had been, with one difference; at least in her time an evil earl wasn’t trying to kill her. The only hope she has of survival and maybe getting back to her own time is to pretend to be Vadim’s wife.
Hemlock: Tales of a Traveler, Book One by N. J. Layouni follows Martha as she learns to adapt to an age where women are lower in the pecking order than the livestock in many cases, and where one false step could be her last. The author pulls off the modern person mysteriously transported to an earlier, less advanced age, with a bit of Mark Twain-style humor, and with tons of action and intrigue. Characters are multi-dimensional and empathy-inducing, and come alive on the page. The medieval theme is maintained by never explaining the mechanism of the time-shift, but a few hints would have been appreciated, as it would set up any sequel—and, there simply must be a sequel, because the story ended on a whale of a cliffhanger.
Except for the unresolved issues: the relationship between Martha and Vadim, what happened to the evil earl, and how Martha came to be transported, it was an interesting and entertaining story. I give ti four stars.