Contents of this post
This post is part of the blog tour for Beyond the Hills, which is being launched on 18 June 2021. In my review of Maressa Mortimer’s first book in The Elabi Chronicles, Walled City, I mentioned that I cared enough about the characters to want to read the next book. The opportunity to join the bog tour arose and I read the .pdf file of the book on my phone before a review copy arrived in the post! Beyond the Hills may be ordered from the author’s website or bookshops worldwide and will also be available as a Kindle edition.
Macia Durus, daughter of the well known Brutus Durus AMP, works hard to achieve a life of honour and prestige in her beloved Elabi. When a so-called “friend” challenges her priorities, Macia’s confusion threatens her carefully constructed plans. And her decision to investigate a forbidden book could have serious consequences for Macia as well as her family, turning their lives upside down.
The scene has changed from the end of Walled City and the main character of that book is a mostly invisible influence on this second instalment. Macia was a minor character in Walled City.
Much of the story is told through her thoughts and actions. The growing influence of the forbidden book and the consequences introduce excitement and suspense. The differences between life in Elabi (the Walled City) and beyond the hills are demonstrated well through the actions and words of characters.
There is hardly any recapping of the events from the first book. The social hierarchy and strange manners may be inferred from the narrative. However for maximum enjoyment and understanding, I recommend reading the books in order of publication.
Although I am not a film buff, I wondered whether this series would make a good film. It is exciting enough, although Macia’s thought-life might be difficult to include in a film.
What the forbidden book is may be gleaned from the text. It would also be possible for readers to access the parts referred to in the story.
Interview with Maressa Mortimer
I asked Maressa some questions about writing the series.
In Walled City Gax experiences culture shock. To what extent did you find British culture different from that in your native country, the Netherlands?
As time went on, I realised there were more and more differences, some subtle, some more obvious. My main struggle has always been missing the Dutch straight forwardness, as well as the speed at which things are done (like lovely smooth roads), although this comes with a lot of pressure as well. Because Dutch society is so efficient, everyone needs to be fast and efficient, so even working on the tills of a supermarket means you have to be very quick. Some people with learning difficulties can really struggle under the pressure.
Although you have created an imaginary world as the setting for The Elabi Chronicles some of the places there have similarities to our own world either at present or in the past. Were you influenced by other books you have read and did you have to do a lot of research?
I was completely new to world building, and simply designed a world that I would like to set a book in. For visuals, I used a world from Sims3, and I decided to make the food Roman (hence the garum and fish oils mentioned in the book, as well as other foods). I decided to have it set in the southern hemisphere, and thankfully, my editor is from Australia, so she corrected my timings!
Physical fitness is a requirement of citizens of Elabi. I wondered which sports you participated in as a youngster. Did you enjoy sport?
P.E. lessons in the Netherlands are mainly gymnastics and team sports. I did do a year of Taekwondo when in college. I used to cycle a lot, and went to Arnhem with friends, which was a 50 kilometre round trip.
When do you expect to publish the next volume in the series? Is it going to be a trilogy?
It will at least be a trilogy, with a book about Downstream. I have started plotting it already, but will probably make it my NaNoWriMo project!
(National Novel Writing Month is November.)
Maressa Mortimer is Dutch but lives in the beautiful Cotswolds, England with her husband and four (adopted) children. Her debut novel, Sapphire Beach, was published December 2019, and her first self published novel, Walled City, came out on December 5th 2020, followed by Viking Ferry, a novella. Beyond the Hills is the second book in The Elabi Chronicles, and will be released on June 18th 2021.
Maressa is a homeschool mum as well as a pastor’s wife, so her writing has to be done in the evening when peace and quiet descend on the house once more. She loves writing Christian fiction, as it’s a great way to explore faith in daily life.
June Blog/Book Tour Beyond the Hills Schedule
7th Sophia Anyanwu
8th Lydia Jenkins
9th Patricia Leslie / @Patricialeslee (instagram)
10th This post!
11th Katy Simpson Thrive With Live Video (Instagram)
12th Tendayi Olga
14th Victoria Kay (Instagram)
15th Claire Musters
17th Joy Margetts
18th Book Launch Facebook Live @Vicarioush.ome