A gripping tale of a royal sister’s fraught political machinations.



From the Theodosian Women series , Vol. 2

In this historical novel set in fifth-century Constantinople, a young princess struggles to defend the Eastern Roman Empire after her father’s death.

When the emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, Flavius Arcadius Augustus, suddenly dies at the age of 31, a dire crisis of succession presents itself. He left behind three daughters and only one son, Theodosius, who is only 7 years old. The predicament is a perilous one—the Western Empire is under siege by enemies, and “dour-faced” Arcadius’ rule was generally regarded as “disastrous.” In addition, there are persistent rumors that Theodosius is an illegitimate heir to the throne—his mother, Eudoxia, now dead, wasn’t known for her virtue. Pulcheria, Theodosius’ 9-year-old sister, though, is as remarkably precocious as she is protective of her little brother and is anxious to secure both the Eastern Empire and her family’s rule over it. As a girl, she’s barred from ever ruling herself, but she establishes herself as her brother’s closest adviser, asserting an indirect power by way of her influence over him. Anthemius, the second most powerful figure in the Eastern Empire, is appointed regent until Theodosius reaches the age of majority and plans to achieve his own foothold by marrying his rash grandson, Isidorus, to Pulcheria. In this sequel to Twilight Empress (2017), Justice chronicles, with a skillful blend of historical rigor and dramatic action, the extraordinary efforts of Pulcheria to outmaneuver her adversaries and defend Theodosius. The prose is razor sharp, and the tale is as impressively unsentimental as it is genuinely moving: “The one history lesson she learned over and over again was that the emperor was always in danger. That knowledge was a curse. As she had after her mother’s death, Pulcheria struggled with a sense of helplessness. She was a young girl with an impossible task.”

A gripping tale of a royal sister’s fraught political machinations.

Pub Date: May 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-917053-23-8

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Raggedy Moon Books

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2020

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.


The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.


Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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