"Pride & Prejudice meets His Dark Materials"

The Mortality of Queens

1790s England and every man and woman is bonded to an Umbra, a small sprite from the unknowable Other Realm...
it's a mortal bond
Image: Experiment on an Umbra in an Air Pump by Joseph Wright of Derby (1768). The National Gallery

A historical fantasy

by J. L. Dawn

1790s England - the world of P&P

Salons and coffeehouses brim with rumour: rebellion in France, nobility romances and intrigue from the Other Realm. For every man and woman in Britain is bonded with their shadow selves - their Umbra. Umbra are shown off at balls and in illustrations, indulged. They gossip, they dress-up, they spar but they also have petty jealousies, secrets and rivalries. Too often, they die in their own realm… it is a mortal bond - for life.


“World-building every bit as rich and haunting as Pullman’s Dark Materials.”
“Character-led fantasy for grown-ups who can cope with being twisted inside-out.”

The Mortality of Queens is brought to life by narrator Skye Alley

“Skye has done a wonderful job bringing my characters into existence. I little thought when writing the book just how challenging my Umbra would be to render in audio. 
Luckily we found Skye, sent her one of the trickiest scenes in the book, and as soon as her sample came back, we knew we had found our narrator.
It was obvious Skye loved the story and she has added so much.” J.L. Dawn

Skye Alley narrates The Mortality of Queens.

“I really have been enjoying recording this! With so many different characters and being so far out of my normal repertoire, it was a challenge and I had a blast! I was extra proud of Maraziel and Hellekin.
Let me tell you, I’m really good at seeing a twist coming ahead of time and calling it. I did not see this coming at all.” Skye Alley

Book 2 in the Umbra series

A Conspiracy of Queens

Georgian London, and a blues maker’s spirited daughter is knifed in the street. Stanton knows it’s the latest murder by the powerful conspiracy determined to keep the Queen ‘neath the Hedge  from returning to rule Britain and the Other Realm.

Book two of the Umbra Series is a race against time: will the Queen come into her powers before a blade finds her?
But is this queen-to-be human or Umbra? Stanton is presented with nine possibilities. Can he keep them all alive? Should he even try?

Buy Book Two of the Umbra Series

It was his fourth call since he had begun to ready himself. Damn the girl. She never came on his command.
‘Amorrie, do not make me summon you to me. I warn –’
Naked.’ The word flitted into that portion of his mind she was wont to inhabit.
He did not believe her. ‘I do not care if you are at your toilet. If you are not in this room upon the moment –’
Her sound came, a lost breath entering a catacomb. A wrinkle creased the candlelight. He spun away from his dressing table, for she rarely ventured close to his mirror. A misty mouth of darkness swelled upon his crowded drawing desk, a swamp of unwashed pots, pungent scents and oily cloths where wooden brushes rose up like hunting herons. The mist congealed where the shadows congregated, consuming any lingering light, and there she was, half-sitting, half-sprawled on top of his rough sketches for the portrait of Countess Harrington and Scampion.
By all the Saints, Amo… you are naked.’ He threw a crumpled paint rag at her. It landed close but she didn’t move to claim it. The velvety dark earth scent of her world had entered with her. More…

You have cards in your hand, Minister Stanton, her eyes suggested, and, if you but pick the right one, you might play me. Dare you lay a queen?


Crime, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Humour, Non-fiction