The Research TBR


Something a little different today. It’s been a while since I’ve talked about writing – editing and trying to push for a publication date while dealing with a lot of pain resulted in more than a little burnout and it’s been hard to go back to The Ravyn’s Words without resenting it. I am hoping that as summer comes and my pain levels get back to normal (for me), I will be able to get back into the swing of it.

For now though I’ve been dabbling on my side project and secret passion project, working title ‘Glassheart’ which is a sapphic love story, about witches living in a regency-esque world of matriarchal great families, plant-based magic, and hanahaki. A blend of magic, romance and emotional pain. It’s a lot of fun to play with and very different from The Citadel, but while I am not trying to stick too closely to history, I am doing a fair bit of research for this one, and today I thought it would be fun to share some of my upcoming reads and some of the ones I’ve dabbled in to give you a feel of this story.


Harold Roth is a leading authority on plant/herbal magic. His new book, The Witching Herbs, is an in-depth exploration of 13 essential plants and herbs most closely associated with witchcraft 13 because it s the witching number and reflects the 13 months of the lunar calendar. The plants are poppy, clary sage, yarrow, rue, hyssop, vervain, mugwort, wormwood, datura, wild tobacco, henbane, belladonna, and mandrake.

The Witching Herbs is the essential plant-worker s guide. Roth is not only a successful gardener, but also a magician and scholar of the occult. No other book blends clear, practical gardening techniques with equally lucid and sophisticated plant magic so successfully.

From the creator of the world-famous Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle

Combining the fascinating archive of the first Duchess of Northumberland with the expertise of Jane, the present Duchess and the creator of the famous Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle, this illustrated gift book tells the story of the poison found within the plants that grow wild across Britain’s countryside and the medicinal potions that derive from them. Based on the information gleaned from the Poison Garden and the Household Books of the first Duchess of Northumberland, the reader will learn the secrets, past and present, of the poisonous and curative properties of these plants and the more unusual varieties that have been cultivated and planted for centuries. Beautifully illustrated,thisis the ideal gift for those with an interest in the wild plants of Britain and for those with an interest in poison and potions.

The Morville Hours A book about time and the garden: that of the Dower House at Morville. It recalls the monastic past of the house. It covers from the crunch of grass underfoot at midnight on a frosty New Year’s Eve to the drip of trees in a melancholy March dawn.

Jane Austen, arguably the greatest novelist of the English language, lived from 1775 to 1817. Her fiction focuses on the gentry and aristocracy, and her heroines are young women looking for love. Yet the comfortable, tranquil country that she brilliantly devised is a complete contrast to the England in which she actually lived. For twenty-nine of Jane Austen’s forty-one years, the country was embroiled in war.

Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England explores the real England of that time. Roy and Lesley Adkins vividly portray fascinating aspects of the daily lives of ordinary people, from forced marriages and the sale of wives in marketplaces to boys and girls working down mines or as chimney sweeps, this book eavesdrops on the daily chore of fetching water, the horror of ghosts and witches, Saint Monday, bull baiting, sedan chairs, highwaymen, the stench of corpses swinging on roadside gibbets and the horrors of surgery without anaesthetics.

Giving a voice to these forgotten people and revealing how they worked, played and struggled to survive, Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England is an authoritative and gripping account that is sometimes humorous, often shocking, but always entertaining.

Regency England is, at least in the popular imagination, the world of Pride and Prejudice and Vanity Fair. Elegant terraces were populated by beautiful women and handsome men who read the works of Byron and Keats and discussed the latest offering by Constable to be seen at the Royal Academy. But in the shadows of these upper-class pursuits there lurked a pulsating urban underworld where crime and vice of every kind flourished.

The Regency Underworld takes us into this often forgotten world, and draws on a wide range of contemporary sources, including unpublished notebooks, to provide a vivid picture of criminals at work during the period 1800-30. It was a world of sometimes startling contrasts in which the aristocracy, even royalty, rubbed shoulders with all manner of crooks, vice-pedlars and ‘unfortunates’. This revised edition has a new introduction by the author, and is extensively re-illustrated, with a variety of contemporary prints, portraits and cartoons to bring the period and the characters to life.

Complete with practical exercises, in-depth descriptions of craft theories and models, hand-drawn illustrations, and the author’s working grimoire, Folk Witchcraft provides the student witch with a thorough introduction to the craft that is firmly rooted in the past, but adapted for the present. Experienced witches will deepen and enrich their practices by connecting more fully to traditional magics from hundreds of years in the past.Learn how to: -Master ecstatic methods of spirit-flight described in witch-lore-Celebrate the turning of the seasons with traditional rituals-Cultivate closer relationships with nature spirits and personal familiars-Work powerful traditional charms, such as the witches’ ladder, the poppet, and blessing/cursing by gesture-Discern the magical properties of herbs and plants without relying on tables from books-Augur practical guidance from the spirit world-utilize old craft incantations, remedies, and recipes-Connect with the Old Ones, the ancestors of Folk Witchcraft-Experience shapeshifting into various animal spirit forms-Craft herbal unguents, oils, powders, tinctures, and infusions-Interpret incantations, charms, and sigils received from your own familiar spirits-Research and hone your own lore and grimoire-sourced magical practices. With over 50 rituals, charms, and exercises, Folk Witchcraft offers a refreshingly simple approach to the craft that is non-dogmatic, flexible, and rewarding as a personal spiritual practice

A fascinating insight into 18th century aristocratic life through the lives of the four Lennox sisters, the great grandchildren of Charles II, whose extraordinary lives spanned the period 1740-1832. Passionate, witty and moving, the voices of the Lennox sisters reach us with immediacy and power, drawing the reader into their remarkable lives, and making this one of the most enthralling historical narratives to appear for many years

In this edition of the book (it’s expanded and revised on the 15th anniversary of original publication) you will find the magical properties and folklore of over 400 herbs! You’ll also find lists of herbs based on their magical powers, their genders, their planetary rulers, and more. Perhaps the most important list is the folk name cross-reference. With that information, when a recipe calls for “bramble, ” you’ll know it needs blackberry. Or if the magic calls for “enebro,” you’ll know you that is juniper.

A tale of decadence and excess, great houses and wild parties, love and sexual intrigue, this biography of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, casts an astonishing new light on the nobility of eighteenth-century England.

Fashionable, extravagant and universally adored, Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, was one of the most influential women of her day. But her flamboyant public persona hid a multitude of personal troubles: drug addiction, vast gambling debts, an unhappy menage a trois with her husband and best friend, and a doomed affair with the future prime minister. Like her descendant, Diana, Princess of Wales, Georgiana was a vulnerable woman living the life of an icon.

The British enthusiasm for gardening has fascinating roots. The Empire and trade across the globe created an obsession with exotic new plants, and showed the power and reach of Britain in the early eighteenth century. At that time, national influence wasn’t measured by sporting success, musical or artistic influence. Instead it was expressed in the design of parks and gardens such as Kew and Stowe, and the style of these grand gardens was emulated first throughout Britain and then increasingly around the world. Augusta of Saxe-Gotha arrived in England aged sixteen, speaking barely any English, to be married to the wild Prince Frederick, the reviled eldest son of George II. Her lifelong association with Kew Gardens, and that of her husband and their close friend, Lord Bute, would prove to be one that changed the face of British gardening forever. In this book, Vanessa Berridge tells a tangled tale of royal intrigue, scandal and determination in the Georgian court and draws us into the politically charged world of garden design.

And a quick peek at some books that I have already read, plan to dip back into while I write (Plant Witchery), and one that I really need to order – Floriography.

So there you have it, a quick peek at where my current research is taking me and my secret passion project. I also have a trip to a local stately home planned in the near future, just to get a more visual idea of the setting – although I have been making use of the virtual tours that are available now, but it’s not the same as being there myself and taking photos etc. I also intend to watch Bridgerton soon, again more for the visuals – although I’ve also heard good things, so it will be fun research.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s