I received an Advanced Copy of this novel from the publisher. Please read my review and the Q&A with author Holly Payne. Scroll to the bottom of the post to win one of two copies of Damascena: One hardcopy (US/CAN), one e-book (INT).
This book is an eclectic blend of historical fiction, mysticism and fantasy. Damascena is born in a monastery in 13th Century Persia and shortly after her birth her mother disappears and Damascena is raised by a monk named Ivan. The last thing that Ivan wants to do is raise a child, but he gradually becomes possessive over Damascena to the point where he will let very few people interact with her. He will also not tell her anything about her mother or where she came from.
Damascena eventually escapes the monastery and Ivan and, although she is only 12 years old at this point in the story, she lives in a white house at the edge of a town. She is looked after by a mysterious man she calls Shams. Shams shows her the importance of roses, the ways in which to cultivate the roses and the power of protection that they have over Damascena. She learns how to distill roses and collect their oil which seems to have some kind of magical power. People begin to believe that Damascena is a saint and is capable of miracles. Continue reading