• Book: Zahara and the Lost Books of Light
  • Location: Seattle, Spain
  • Author: Joyce Yarrow

Review Author: Donnastram



Author Joyce Yarrow has created a unique tale founded in history, and delivers the story line with lyrical language, well-rendered characters, descriptive settings, and excellent pacing. Protagonist Alienor Crespo, a Seattle journalist, discovers she is eligible for Spanish citizenship as the descendant of Jews who were brutally banished from the country centuries prior. Still dealing with the crushing loss of her mother, Crespo talks her editor into letting her explore the story first-hand, and travels abroad to apply for citizenship.

Crespo’s unusual ability of second sight, one which her grandmother referred to as a gift, allows her to slip in and out of time to experience the life of another. Although initially she seems reluctant to embrace this gift (“once again I feel my sense of self shifting”), she accepts her altered state as a way to identify and uncover family secrets as she takes on another’s emotions and sees life through their eyes.

During her journey, she uncovers a unique, secret library housed in tunnels, containing precious contents known only to a small number who have pledged to guard these great literary works. Crespo find another purpose to her travels as she helps safeguard these works from an extremist group bound on erasing beliefs that are not in alignment with their own.

ZAHARA is both carefully researched and imagined and a highly recommended book that you may find has some parallels to our current times.

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750 - 3000 words with strong 'sense of place' theme

Short story, travelogue, or memoir

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Cash prizes totalling £500 / $600 

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Entries close 15th November 2020