We all know the stories of old. Vikings landing on our shores. Long ships filling harbours with strong, bold men as they step onto land with one thing on their mind. The villages and towns they visit are never quite the same after they leave, their parting gifts of death and destruction are left in plain sight for all to see – a warning perhaps, that they’re just getting started. There’s a trail of blood wherever they go. They are unstoppable.

Treasure and power is what they seek. Land they can claim after a sharp knife has taken away any threat of interference. They have a plan and no-one will stop them achieving it. They move through choppy waters like a feather on the wind – silent, floating towards land on an unseen breeze. A silent menace ready to strike at a moments notice once they reach their intended target.

Conversations between crew fill the air as they banter in jest, readying themselves for action, checking their weapons as they consider their next raid. The wind is quiet and they are restless.

A sombre mood envelopes the mob as they shy away from the finger of guilt that points at them. Their brother, Trygve, was stabbed and someone on board is responsible for his death. Awkward silence ensues as they all deny involvement to their leader, Ormar Karlsson, but he has no time for fools.

There’s a new passenger on board. Helga. None of them could ever comprehend her power. She can see exactly what played out but she must convince them she is harmless but much-needed crew member if she’s to survive and not meet a watery death, like so many before her. Each memory. Each thought. Each internal confession. She knows who did it. It’s just a matter of time before she gets them to admit it but it has to come from them – they think she is a witch. She’s been called much worse.

She surveys the crew – the stone-faced Kjartan, the lumbering Frode, the lean Skarde and scowling Inge. Handsome Ulrik sits next to smug Magnus and the glare of Knut as they are questioned by their fearless leader, would turn any unwelcome onlooker to stone. Helga sits waiting patiently for them to run out of excuses.

She will know when its the right time to speak. After all, they have no idea what she’s capable of.

Blood Toll by Snorri Kristjansson (photo provided by Love Books Tours) begins where you least expect it. It takes the reader on a dark and dangerous journey from deep within the camp of warriors destined to destroy for their own gain. However, their next attack is weighed down with the guilt and fear that resides over them in the unsolved murder of their kin. A glance here, a murmur there. It all adds to the incredible atmosphere created by the author as they land on shore. Whispers and threats are weaved into the story arc as the reader is urged on alongside them, following them into battle. Blood Toll is a tense, reenactment of Viking life that will have you checking the doors and windows before you turn in for the night!

Blood Toll’s cover design was created by Alistair Sims & Chrissey Harrison. Viking Ship image by rob zs and runes image by Daler licensed via Shutterstock.

As a children’s writer, I very much welcome publishers who embrace any additional needs that a reader may have. Well-known publisher Barrington Stoke tries to ensure that every Dyslexic child has access to the same stories their peers are reading. Inclusivity is key if every child is to thrive and know the joy of reading for pleasure, as well as texts used in exams and tests.

Books on the Hill (BOTH) publishing have taken this fact on for the adult Dyslexic reader and after a successful collection of stories published in 2021, they are back with even more tremendous creations for readers to enjoy in the Dyslexic Friendly Quick Reads Series. The line-up is full of many front-list authors such as Gareth Powell, J.M Alvey (aka Juliet Mckenna), Scott Oden, Snorri Kristjansson, and James Bennett. Peter James will also be doing an introduction for the 2022 collection!

I am delighted to share my review. Snorri Kristjansson’s books are already on my shelves so I was excited to hear of his involvement but also for me to get the chance to review his fantastic story for the book tour.

Reading is for life not just at school and I can’t wait to see what doors this collection of stories opens.

It takes courage, patience, and ultimately, funds to continue such an amazing initiative – please support BOTH’s if you can.

Let’s get involved. Let’s keep people reading!

Huge thanks to Kelly Lacey and the team at Love Books Tours for their unrelenting support of creatives.