Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Gods Children by Mabi Roberts #honno #Godschildren #damppebblesblogtours

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‘Kate Marsden: nurse, intrepid adventurer, saviour of the lepers or devious manipulator, immoral and dishonest?’ As she lies on her deathbed visited by the ghosts of her past, who should we believe, Kate or those who accuse her of duplicity? Memory is a fickle thing: recollections may be frozen in time or distorted by the mirror of wishful thinking. Kate’s own story is one of incredible achievements, illicit love affairs and desperate longing; those of her accusers paint a very different portrait – of a woman determined on fame and fortune. The reader navigates a narrative as fractured as the Siberian ice Kate crosses in search of a cure for leprosy, and as beautiful as Rose, her lost love, as the full picture emerges of a life lived when women were not expected to break the mould.


I would like to thank the author, Hono Press and blog tour organiser Emma Welton for the ARC in return for an honest review.

I would like to thank the author, Hono Press and blog tour organiser Emma Welton for the ARC in return for an honest review.

“Memories are bullets. Some whiz by and only spook you. Others tear you open and leave you in pieces.” ― Richard Kadrey, Kill the Dead

The beauty of Gods Children is the way it takes this idea, that memories can be duplicitous and weave around it the story of Kate Marsden, nurse, explorer and savour of Lepers. Or is she? As Kate lies in a hospital bed, approaching the end of her life, we learn of her extraordinary story through a series of jumbled and fractured memories. As we read, we learn her version of events and that of the ghosts from her past who accuse her of falsehood. We have to decide whom to believe, which memories to place our faith in, for based on this, she is heroine or charlatan.

It is utterly intriguing, the way we never really know, and for me it created an atmosphere of contradictory emotions and diverging thoughts. I was torn as I read, who did I place my faith in, this flawed, passionate women or the ghosts that plague her last days. I don’t think I have felt so conflicted when reading a book before about a character and it was exhilarating, because it so beautifully written, the story so cleverly constructed. I liked it a lot, because its’s so different from many other books, it felt open ended to me and I enjoyed that uncertainty that lingered in my mind and still does days after finishing it. Other readers may feel differently, might be able to decide if they believe Kate’s memories one way or another and that is great. Simply because this is the type of story that really will mean different things to different readers. It created a wealth of interpretations not normally open to readers of more traditionally told linear stories. The use of memories, some we can trust, some we cannot be sure of, created a sense mistrust of all the characters and left me with a palatable unease at the end. But this disquiet only served to make this novel, one of the best I’ve read so far this year, because you can’t Pidgeon hole it! You can’t simply put it down and move on, the story and my feelings are still lingering, as I continue to think about the motivations of Kate and those who seek to judge her.

What makes this story even more fascinating is that Kate Marsden, complex and depending on whose version of her life you believe, was a real life nurse and missionary. At a time when women were expected to say at home, when men were the intrepid explorers, she investigated a cure of leprosy and created a treatment centre. Dogged by accusations of financial irregularity and condemned because of her sexuality, her life was far from the ‘normal’ of that period. The character in Gods Children reflects both her visionary outlook and the persecution she faced as an LGBT women. However, it doesn’t paint her as perfect, it reflects the contractionary way she was seen. It asks us to look at her attackers and ask, did they pursue her unfairly, was it rooted in homophobia, or was she all of these things, reflecting both her great works and her failings. She is complex and magnificent and it’s up to us as readers to decide if she should be celebrated as a character in this novel or vilified. To me, her complex personality will stay with me for a long time and I will continue to wonder about who she really was. Lost to history, Mabli Roberts should be celebrated for giving her a voice and creating a character of such richness that she will never be forgotten by those that read this novel. I know how I feel about her and I will be fascinated to know how others feel!

A five star read that for its complexity and emotional impact, really should be on the reading list of all lovers of historical literature. The voices of both Kate and the ghosts of her past, shine from the pages and the use of memory in all its flawed glory, gives this novel a feeling of being lost in time. Memories are all that are left to Kate and for us they a are a route into the story of an incredible women.

You can purchase God’s Children from

Amazon UK

Google Books,




About the author

Mabli Roberts Colour med

Mabli Roberts lives in a wild, mountainous part of Wales. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and has worked as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Wales, Newport. Most of her inspiration comes from her love of history and from long walks in the timeless landscape around her.

Mabli also writes as Paula Brackston, PJ Brackston and PJ Davy. Nutters was shortlisted for the Mind Book Award and The Witch’s Daughter was a New York Times bestseller.

Her work has been translated into five languages and is sold around the world. You can find out more about her books on her website, her Author’s Facebook page and YouTube channel as well as the God’s Children Facebook page:

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8 thoughts on “Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Gods Children by Mabi Roberts #honno #Godschildren #damppebblesblogtours

  1. Kath says:

    This sounds incredible – and I like that it’s left to the reader to decide what kind of person she was, even if we’ll never really know that she’s no longer around.

    Liked by 1 person

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