Towards the end of last year, I read and reviewed The Initiate by Stuart France and Sue Vincent. You can read my thoughts here. It was the first of their books that I’d read and, although not written in a conventional form, it invoked my curiosity sufficiently to want to return to their world.
As it happens, I have experienced that world first hand – albeit in what I’m sure is only a peripheral way. Sue and I first crossed paths in the blogging world six or seven years ago. We both attended a blogger event in London a year or so later.
An outcome of that meeting was the invitation to get together at some point. It transpired that Stu lived a short drive from me and Sue regularly visited.
A meeting with the pair of them, I discovered, would always be an education, as they introduced me to aspects of the land and nature that I’d only been barely aware of. Some of those things can, in my clumsy shorthand, only be described as elements of mysticism.
In total, I think I met up with them no more than half a dozen times. Most of these were in the Peak District, and one was in Oxfordshire. I suspect that, if we’d met in any part of the country, they’d have been able to open my eyes to all kinds of things. They truly were fascinating people.
I say were, but that past tense only refers to Sue. I won’t deny that I cried on more than one occasion after learning of Sue’s cancer and the prognosis. Many years ago, a wise man taught me something about grief. It’s harder to get over the loss of someone when there are regrets. Those regrets are usually about looking back and wishing you’d done more with the person before they’d died. So my tears were selfish. I hadn’t spent enough time with Sue and, with the Covid restrictions, wasn’t able to see her in her final months.
Stu, of course, is still a fascinating person, and I am looking forward to meeting up with him again, hopefully before too long.
The reason I mention all this is for full disclosure. I know the authors, and I have spent time with them as they discuss some of the concepts they cover in their books. So when I read The Initiate, I could hear their voices in the narrative. And when I read Finding Don and Wen, those voices were even clearer, especially as the book takes the form of an exchange of correspondence between the two of them.
Reflecting on this book, what seems clear now is that this is more of a teaser for their other books, particularly the Triad of Albion trilogy. It’s also an insight into their relationship, as Don and Wen are Stuart and Sue’s alter egos. For me, this was a joy to read, and I suspect anyone who’s met the pair – in person or online – will also enjoy the experience of connecting with them in this way. Clearly, for those of us who miss Sue, there will be a poignancy in reading her words and ‘hearing’ the playfulness in her voice. She had serious things to say, but there was a childlike enthusiasm in the way she said them.
For those who have no previous connection with the authors, reading this might be more challenging. It’s written in a very readable way, but the nature of the correspondence isn’t particularly linear, and there’s no specific beginning, middle and end. That doesn’t mean to say you should only read it if you already know them, but it’ll probably mean more if you’ve read a couple of their other books first.
As for me, what I got from it was even more incentive to get on and read Heart of Albion, the follow up to The Initiate.
If you fancy delving into Finding Don and Wen, click on its book cover below, and it’ll take you to Amazon, where you can buy either the eBook or paperback. Unsurprisingly, the cover for The Initiate will take you to the Amazon page for that too.