The Secret Commonwealth
By Jane Stevenson
History and folklore collide when a 17th century alchemist discovers there are supernatural forces at work as England slides towards Civil War
A Tour of Oxford and Drink at the Eagle and Child
Oxford Book Launch
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I get my book delivered to?
How do supporter names work?
Will the book and rewards that I receive look the same as the images shown on the Unbound website?
Like two of my previous novels, it’s set in the seventeenth century, but a fantasy seventeenth century, where supernatural forces are at work. I have created a ‘world under the hill’ based on a study of folklore, which says that there are both good and bad beings, they’re always difficult to deal with, and they don’t think quite the way we do.
I also looked at witch trials, and found people who insisted that they weren’t witches, but were working against evil witches and demons with the aid of some sort of good spirits, and trying to preserve order, while the ‘demons’ or ‘bad people’ were trying to destroy it. So I moved away from the idea of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fairies, towards order versus chaos.
Something went terribly wrong with England and Scotland in the early seventeenth century, so clearly, chaos was triumphing. According to folklore, ‘the fairies’ allegedly left England around the time of Elizabeth I; so these two ideas came together with a Welsh legend of a supernatural king called Bran imprisoned beneath the Tower of London, and the idea of a rescue-mission out of Scotland.
My story opens with Andrew, an unworldly English alchemist, attempting to make the Philosopher’s stone with the aid of a gruff maidservant called Christian, whose father was Scottish. Having failed, they go to Scotland to get help from beings that Christian half-believes in.
To their astonishment, they find there really is a world under the hills, and between them, Andrew and its ruler Arcas make the Philosopher’s Stone. But the price is finding themselves drafted in as combatants in a terrifying supernatural battle. Meanwhile, England has slid into Civil War, and Andrew must walk from Edinburgh to London in the hopes of restoring order and balance in England by freeing Bran. The real world events are meticulously researched and chronologically accurate, only the causality is fictional.
Quick select rewards