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River of Destiny

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  1,399 Ratings  ·  214 Reviews
An Anglo Saxon burial ground that must not be disturbed. A Victorian tragedy of forbidden love. And an ancient curse whose power grows ever stronger. On the banks of the River Deben lies a set of barns dating back to the Anglo Saxons, and within their walls secrets have lain buried for centuries.
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published July 5th 2012 by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (first published 2012)
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As a rule I enjoy anything written by this author. In my opinion she has written some wonderful books but this one missed the mark for me.

It is written to encapsulate three separate centuries and it took a long while to get into. It was confusing to sort out the different scenarios, timeframes and characters. It would just start to gain momentum in one scenario/century and then change to another and that gave the story a jumpy, eratic feel. The delivery of the story/ plot wasn't smooth.

I could s
Maya Panika
Jul 14, 2012 Maya Panika rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 07, 2012 Teresa rated it really liked it
This is my first foray into Barbara Erskine territory and I'm delighted to report that I will be back for more! I am a big fan of dual time-frame novels and River of Destiny has not just two but three different time frames - one set in the distant past in Anglo-Saxon times, one in the more recent past in the Victorian era and finally, a contemporary narrative set in Suffolk.

Echoes from the past haunt the inhabitants of a group of river-side barn conversions in rural Suffolk. Dutiful wife, Zoe ha
May 28, 2012 Joanne rated it really liked it
I love Barbara Erskine books! They are a unique blend of the supernatural, history, and mystery and they never fail to give me the chills! She has a way of developing a chilling atmosphere in her books with cold mists and ghostly echoes from the past.

The novel centers on a modern day couple who have moved to Suffolk to enjoy a more leisure way of life by sailing on the River Deben and settling in to a development of restored historical barns. It doesn't take long for strange events to start frig
Aug 24, 2014 Jo rated it it was ok
How can a book with Anglo-Saxon curses and vengeful ghosts go so wrong?
Jo Barton
Sep 07, 2012 Jo Barton rated it it was amazing
In River of Destiny Barbara Erskine has cleverly combined stories from three very different time frames:
In Anglo-Saxon Suffolk, we watch as the sword known as Destiny Maker is forged in a land riddled with mistrust and ancient superstition. In nineteenth century Suffolk, local blacksmith Daniel Smith is helpless as Lady Emily Crosby begins her deadly game of sexual dominance. In modern day Suffolk Zoe, Ken and Leo are disturbed by events seemingly out of their control and yet as the evil which h
Dec 15, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
I Really enjoyed this one of Barbara Erskine's and it's one I have no problem recommending. There are 3 story lines braided together and all work very well in tandem. Barbara Erskine is definitely on form here.
Annette Gisby
Jul 14, 2012 Annette Gisby rated it liked it
Shelves: romance, timeslip, ghosts
Ken and Zoe have moved from London to rural Suffolk to a set of barn conversions on the river Deben, so that Ken can have more time with his boat. Zoe wasn't too keen on the move, she isn't that interested in sailing but hasn't told her husband until long after they've moved and the deed is done.

There are three barns on their complex, along with The Old Forge, which once belonged to the Victorian hall that is nearby, now converted into luxury apartments. Ken and Zoe have The Old Barn, next to th
Aug 17, 2012 Kathy rated it really liked it
I was super excited when I saw a new novel from Barbara Erskine and as I love her novels, it was a quick grab off the shelf for me. And I do love dual time-frame novels but I was a bit sceptical when I first started reading and it was not just two time frames – but three!!! Phew! I wasn’t sure how I would handle it – but once you get into River of Destiny, it really flows nicely and you never get lost where you are up to. There is 865 AD - Anglo-Saxon/Viking times, 1865 more recent past in the V ...more
Lindy Bell
Jan 27, 2013 Lindy Bell rated it liked it
Every Barbara Erskine book I have read since "Lady of Hay" has been a little disappointing compared to it. However, she still manages to weave a spooky ghost story with historical events, although her heroine in nearly every book is weak. I still found this book to be a good yarn.
Feb 25, 2013 Anne rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
Barbara Erskine is so very good at what she does – open one of her books and you know you’ll be dipping into history, there will be strong characters and stories in all the time frames, there will be a touch of magic and supernatural, some romance, and that you’ll find it unputdownable and enjoy every page. This one was no exception – I’ve been travelling from modern Suffolk to Anglo Saxon and Victorian Britain for several days now, and have just reached the wholly satisfying ending, not wanting ...more
Sep 05, 2012 Suzanne rated it liked it
I love Barbara Erskine and am slowly replacing my paperbacks with kindle versions so that I have them all with me all the time. I had pre-ordered the Kindle version of this book as I couldn't wait for it to hit bookstores in Australia (and sell out before I managed to drag myself into one). It took a little time to get into the story as Barbara told her tale from three different centuries - I found it hard to 'connect' with the characters at first as just when I started to feel an affinity with ...more
Feb 19, 2013 Lucinda rated it it was amazing
A delicately interwoven narrative that cleverly combines exquisite historical detail with inspired creative vision.

Refreshingly original and multi-layered this spinechilling Ghostly thriller has an archaic, gothic feel to it that is disturbingly magnetic. I was drawn into a sinister mystery reminiscent of BBC television drama series ‘Marchlands’ wherein ancient Anglo-Saxon barns conceal shocking secrets that intrigue and enchant. As Zoe and Ken sense the unnerving presence which becomes gradual
Mar 03, 2013 Jill rated it really liked it
Set on the banks of the river Deben in Suffolk, River of Destiny will take you to three different eras. You'll be plunged into the Ango-Saxon/Viking world of 865AD, find yourself next in 1865 Victorian times in Suffolk, before surfacing in present day Suffolk.

Ken and Zoe, the present day characters, have moved from London to a barn conversion in Suffolk on the banks of the river Deben, where sailing is so accessible. The barn that Ken and Zoe move into is one of three barn conversions that in Vi
Dec 28, 2012 Nora rated it really liked it
The book kept me awake every night until 2 am for a whole week. Unique characters, a curse and a ghost ship. It was very spooky and I liked the three different centuries, especially the time of the 19th century, and the - of the author well researched - life in the Hall and the farm back then. I liked Zoe as a main character and also her husband Ken. I dont know about Leo as a character and I found Jade, the little girl and her hatred against Zoe understandable, but quite annoying. My favourite ...more
Jul 08, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
I have been wanting to read books by this author for a long time. Finally, I decided that it was time and, I am now addicted to her writing and trying to figure out how to get all her other books!

First, let me say that I love historical fiction. It's the place I always come back to for books that can satisfy my thirst for knowledge of other times and places. This book was totally amazing. It had two separate historic periods (Anglo-Saxon & Victorian) plots, plus a modern storyline. So I was
Jun 28, 2013 Harriet rated it it was ok
I found it difficult to buy into the story. The characters in every era were too far fetched. I can't add too much more without revealing plot details which would completely ruin any future reader's enjoyment as finding out what happens next is the only enjoyment this book brings, certainly for me anyway. By the end I began not to care whether the 'ancient evil' was resolved or not and felt increasingly irritated at the author's dumbing down of religion to a godless karma based hodge podge. Howe ...more
Audrey Driscoll
Oct 21, 2012 Audrey Driscoll rated it liked it
I had never heard of Barbara Erskine but was intrigued by this book because it featured a tumulus. I expected to read about archaeology and life in Saxon Britain. Those elements were there, but I think the author missed an opportunity to create for the reader a story of the ancient magic of smithcraft and its remains in the present day. Instead, we have an unwieldy creation with way too much about women wanting to get pregnant. There are also way too many characters, few of whom are memorable. A ...more
Jul 06, 2012 Debbie rated it liked it

Her book, "Child of the Phoenix", is one of my all time favorite books. It was such a well done story and i loved it! For me, this latest book was just o.k. I liked the unique setting and I was initially drawn into the story, but the 2nd half of the book was a disappointment. I liked Zoe and Leo, I just felt that some of the contemporary story was a bit far fetched. The outcome for most of the main characters in the historical setting was not what I was expecting either.
This is the only book I've read with 3 different time frames. The symbols at the top of each section meant you knew instantly where you were and made it easy to follow.
Each section was enjoyable in it's own right and the Anglo Saxon and Victorian storylines were brought into the contemporary story to bring it all together.
A good read!
Charlotte Eeles
Mar 14, 2015 Charlotte Eeles rated it liked it
Not something I'd typically read - a book club choice, but that said, it kept me compelled to the end. I loved ithat it moved between three timelines, and really felt empathy with the key characters. I just admit though, I wanted a little more from the finale, but maybe because my own imagination got the better if me!
Erskine certainly knows how to put a story together that can hook and scare you all at the same time. The "darkness" of her novels always give me pause but there is just something about the characters and the storyline that I just can't resist!
Fantastic...almost as good as her first three books! I read it in one day - which should tell you how compelling the writing is.
Apr 14, 2013 Mireille rated it really liked it
I loved this book and couldn't put it down , the overlapping time frames and characters had me engrossed from start to finish an incredible read .
Sep 02, 2012 Jillian rated it it was amazing
I love all of Barbara Erskines work and this was no exception :)
Judith Lowe
Jan 29, 2017 Judith Lowe rated it really liked it
Three narratives intertwine as we are in Suffolk in Anglo Saxon times, the 19th century and the present day, with historical events influencing the actions of the current inhabitants. Typical of Barbara Erskine's style - if you are a fan of hers you will enjoy this book. A bit long-winded at times, but a clever weaving of the three narratives; easy to follow as a tiny drawing of a sword, a horseshoe or a boat identifies the period when the action takes place.
Alison Eden
Jan 18, 2017 Alison Eden rated it liked it
It took me a long time to get into this book - it was at least half way through before I understood where each of the three separate stories were going and how they were interlinked. In the end I did enjoy it but I nearly gave up at one point!
Bára z We love books
Kniha se mi velmi líbila a dostala mě, ale platí tu, aby jste si neoblibovali postavy, hodně mě to zasáhlo.
Jinak moc doporučuji!
Caroline Pryor
Nov 28, 2016 Caroline Pryor rated it really liked it
Audio book read.

Three stories, three times a meandering tale that brings an ancient burial site through from Anglo Saxon, Victorian and to the current times. Tales of love and loss.

Angela Smith
Mar 01, 2017 Angela Smith rated it liked it
Loved how the three times periods intertwined to make one great story.
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An historian by training, Barbara Erskine is the author of six bestselling novels that demonstrate her interest in both history and the supernatural, plus two collections of short stories. Her books have appeared in at least twenty different languages. She lives with her family in an ancient manor house near Colchester, and in a cottage near Hay-on-Wye.
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