Novels and short story anthologies

~ delve into tales from the far reaches of time ~

Historical Fantasy

Uncanny creatures prowl the mountains of Norway and northwestern England



Troll and Trylleri

In the troll-haunted mountains of ninth century Norway, Jorunn Knutsdotter struggles under the weight of tyranny, near-slavery, and false charges of theft. The Norns have sent no hero, so she must fight her own way free, armed with nothing but woodslore and folklore and a magic key.

Jorunn's small saga plays out in the shadow of legendary kings, warriors, and one strong-willed king's daughter -- who sets off an avalanche of social change across all the lands of the Norse.

A 116,000-word dose of historical fantasy set in the Viking age, TROLL AND TRYLLERI is based on the legends, mythology and semi-historical sagas of Norway.

"An exciting story with a great heroine and a compelling quest. It evokes the world of Norse mythology vividly. I believe fantasy readers want very much to be transported to another world, and this author has done that...
    "I like the richly detailed world, and the writing is beautiful. This could be a book I'd read multiple times."

~ critique by a judge in the literary contest of PNWA Writers Conference, 2015

"A story which works on many levels. It is not just a myth, there are links and parallels to society today.
    "A fascinating insight into creatures of Norse legends and myths, interwoven into a young woman's plight. A wealth of characters, some adorable and some hateful. Visual and exiting descriptions of a beautiful land. Well written and edited. If you enjoy a good story this comes highly recommended."

~ J. Clarke, October 2018





Hero's Shield

Tapestry of Cumbria, book 1

Trapped and tormented in a form not her own, Gwen ferch Draig rouses from the depths of misery when she learns of the peril awaiting her kin. The sorcerer who has kidnapped her is raising a host of kin to aid in besieging the clans of the mountainous west.

Fear for folk overrides fear for self. Somehow Gwen must break her paralysis of dread, escape and outrun the Angul sorcerer, and bear warning to her king in the west.

Outrun, perhaps she can-- with four fleet hooves pounding the road home. But who among her Brytish kin will understand her whinny of warning?

Carrying a terrified fellow hostage on the perilous road home, Gwen battles human and inhuman foes as well as her own skewed concept of courage.

"A tale of fantasy in which magic, folklore, and history are seamlessly interwoven."

~ Publishers Weekly review of the unpublished manuscript, 2013

"This tale kept me on the edge of my chair trying to read faster to find out what would happen next. I'm hoping to read the continuing story soon. "

~ Aleta, April 2018

"A wonderful tale of dreams, hopes, foolish deeds, courage and friendship woven into a tapestry of myths and legends. I look forward the the next in the series."

~ J. Clarke, May 2018

"A fantastic page turner with compelling characters and mythical beings woven together with wonderful old English/Scottish dialect... I could hardly wait to finish so I could start the next book."

~ M. Potter, June 2018

"I had never heard of the author Joyce Holt before, but in our Book Club one of our members knows Joyce. She came to our book club, explained how she came up with the ideas, showed us the research she had done. The stories came even more to life.
   "I have 3 daughters who will love the main character Gwen as she tries to save Bryt land from the Anguls. With fairies and mythical creatures galore this is a fun adventure for those who like fantasy and adventure with far from perfect people. I enjoyed watching Gwen trying to figure out two realms, the fairy world and Cumbria in the 6th century."

~ anonymous on Amazon, November 2018





Brigand's Blade

Tapestry of Cumbria, book 2

One trek to Caer Luel, three tasks to tackle, two lives and the fate of the whole kingdom at stake -- Gwen of Raven's Crag aims to make quick work of the quest.

Gwen doesn't count on crotchety wisewoman Teg attaching herself to the journey as guide, nor on the shape-shifting riverhorse trailing her into the lowlands, nor on the snobbery of townsfolk still proud of their Roman heritage -- and scornful of rustic Brigands down from the mountains.

BRIGAND'S BLADE, a time-slip novel, weaves in a tale from three centuries earlier. Of mixed parentage, Aria is too Roman for the Bryts and too Brytish for the Romans. Her mother's kin, freedom-loving mountain Brigands, gird themselves to rise in revolt against the noble civilization of her father. A clash of cultures, a battle of virtues. Aria must choose one side or the other, but the choice tears her heart.

"This is a treasure house of Welsh research. The supernatural creatures we've all heard of are so well presented, as well. Lovely story!" "Adults and YA readers will love this book!"

~ PNWA literary contest judges, 2014

"I loved that Gwen, our wannabe warrior woman, grows and matures in this second book. The fact that she is not perfect makes for a great story. Lessons are learned in this action-packed adventure. Great reading!"

~ M. Potter, June 2018

"Joyce Holt has once more satisfied my greed for a well woven story. The main character develops and learns much about her world, the past and the people she loves and travels with. More myths and legends come to life and hints of the first in the series are well presented rather than mere repetition. Well crafted story."

~ J. Clarke, July 2018

"Riveting! I really loved the historical blended with the fantastic and magical. Wonderful book! Now I need to go read book 1 and 3!"

~ K. Garcia, August 2018





Vagabond's Dagger

Tapestry of Cumbria, book 3

Desperate to solve a nightmare riddle, Gwen and her companions skulk through lands recently stolen from the Brytish clans. They must evade ruthless Angul slavers, a monstrous serpent from the realm of the Wild Ones -- and now a goorach. The reeking ogress keeps appearing on their trail, and each time gleefully wails the name of one soon to die.

The hag hasn't yet called the name of Gwen or her companions. How long will that last? For the vagabonds traipse deeper and deeper into peril.

Listen! The names now cried by the goorach belong not to a few weary travelers but to the Thirteen Kings of the North themselves! Their golden age comes to a close.

"The third in the series had me captivated again. Love the imagery, characters, stories within the story. Each in the series works as a stand alone, but I bet you cant resist reading more.
    "Recommend to anyone who enjoys a good tale, adventure, myths and legends from the past, reading to children, a feisty female and a page turner."

~ J.Clarke, July 2018





Smith's Hammer

Tapestry of Cumbria, book 4

If you're so foolish as to stray into the Otherworld, take great care to eat nothing, to drink not a drop -- or when you return to your own realm, you'll find yourself whisked far from your own time.

Wandering adrift in the ninth century, Gwen and Trystan find no trace of their kin. Norse refugees have taken over the mountains of Cumbria.

Gwen burns to push further, to seek any lingering remnant of the proud boisterous clans who once ruled the heights.

But autumn deepens toward winter. Trystan wants to shelter with the Northfolk until spring. And each day they linger, his roots sink deeper into the Norse way of life.

"Well written, great story line. Loved the characters and their dilemmas set in a past world. Great."

~ J.Clarke, October 2018





Minstrel's Staff

Tapestry of Cumbria, book 5

The passages are closing between the worlds. Magic is fading from the realm of mankind, though peril still swoops from the skies.

Cast ahead through time once more, Gwen and Trystan travel a road fraught with danger. Another wave from afar has swept over the Isle of the Mighty. Haughty new conquerors hold rule over the land. The lore and glory of the Bryts has faded almost from sight.

Torn apart by the tides of war and exploitation, Gwen's only hope to escape and make her way back to Trystan lies in giving up a secret she vowed never to reveal.

"Happy to read the final story in the series, but sad too, I will miss Gwen.
    "The final book is as full of twists and turns, nail biting moments and that underlying determination, love and humour which has been apparent throughout the series.
    "Whisked me away to another time and place and gave me a good understanding of why we Brits are who we are.
    "Wonderful story weaving. Thank you, Joyce Holt, for hours of entertainment. "

~ J. Clarke, December 2018







Science Fiction

  • Terraforming a barren earthlike planet? Good.
  • Bioengineering with unwitting human subjects? Bad.


Epitome

Phoenix Afire, book 1

What can you do when you suspect you're being misled? What can you do when you feel utterly alone, when everyone else has a soulmate to cling to, but not you... when even your closest friends ahve no clue why you feel the way you do?

What can you do when you see the approach of doom, and everyone else takes it as a cause for celebration?

In the science fiction novel EPITOME, Desti of Pitera seeks to take back her own destiny, no matter the cost.

"An original, exciting, action-filled science fiction plot, plausible and meticulously planned."

~ critique by a judge in the literary contest of PNWA Writers Conference, 2003

"Joyce Holt has done it again. Sucked me into this YA Sci- fantasy page turner of a story.
    "Loved the characters and their dilemmas. Clever ideas. Enjoyed how I knew more than the main character although the truth was only hinted at, but knowing human nature it was easy to see.
    "The story ended well but left a dangling thread. Look forward to the next book. "

~ J. Clarke, January 2019

"Beguiling notions An interesting foray into future genetics and scientific experimentation. Characters are good, but a bit shallow. Perhaps future writings will expand on them. I will continue to read this series."

~ anonymous on Amazon, January 2019





Perihelion

Phoenix Afire, book 2

Burning to avenge the murder of her beloved great-grandparents, Merica infiltrates the ring of corrupt scientists responsible for their deaths -- tainting her own reputation along the way. Then naivete trips up her idealistic scheme, and her expose backfires.

One step ahead of grim retribution, Merica flees for her life, leaving behind the only world she has ever known -- the interstellar lightship Phoenix.

In the science fiction novel PERIHELION, Merica tries to salvage the situation on the terraformed planet Cresh, but every effort meets with disaster. Have all her sacrifices been for nothing?

"Outstanding, inventive and fascinating... quite plausible, extremely natural and realistic... marvelous characters... scientific references are incredible... "

~ critique by a judge in the literary contest of PNWA Writers Conference, 1994

"At first I was disappointed the story did not continue where the first left off, but soon I was sucked in to the new characters especially when I realised who it was. Turned pages with ease and enjoyed to the very end. Look forward to the third book."

~ J. Clarke, 2019

"I enjoyed this second installment in the Phoenix series. Very easy to feel at home with these adroitly fashioned characters."

~ anonymous on Amazon, January 2019





Chimera

Phoenix Afire, book 3


Fox is made for the sky. Laluna, for the sea.

Fleeing with kin from the islands of their oppressed ancestors, these two make a desperate bid to bring atrocity to an end.

But their only hope for assistance lies halfway around the world. Wild storms and raging seas bar their way to sanctuary. The wide, roiling, uninhabited oceans of the terraformed planet Cresh...

Two young folk, pitted against the howling seas? Then torn far apart by typhoon and current? They don't stand a chance.

~ CHIMERA is a work in progress ~







Don't have time for novels?

Flash Fiction Anthologies

Folktales retold for the busy modern reader, each 600 words or less:

  • 51 tales from Telemark
  • 44 from Scandinavia.
  • 16 from around the world.


Spun Again

Old Tales Retold

Folklore spun into flash fiction for a quick, nerve-tingling read. Do you dare encounter the otherworldly creatures prowling the wilds of Scandinavia? Beware!

  • a nykk in horse-shape haunts the lake
  • tusse-folk dance through the gloomy forests
  • trolls lurk in the heights
  • a Finn magician loans his enchanted handkerchief
  • mer-creatures sluice through the sea's billows
  • a magic harp strums doom
  • ...and many more tales

"A satisfying bedside book, for reading 1 or 2 tales before you drift off to sleep, perhaps to dream of mysterious mound-people & bothersome trolls...
    "For anyone interested in Norse fairy tales, or for lovers of fairy tales in general, this comfortable and valuable little book is a must-have, a wonderful introduction to a diverse but almost forgotten literature."

~ T. Shew, January 2018

"Tusse, and draug and nisse--Oh My! Spun Again is a treasure trove of enriched Scandinavian tales that introduced me to long ago creatures and everyday folk. I was transported to another time and place rich in imagery and smells and traditions. Joyce Holt does more than write entertaining short stories, she creates enchanting journeys that I don't want to leave. In fact, I'm going back now!"

~ DebbAnn, January 2020







Spun Again 2

Telemark

Folklore spun into flash fiction for a quick, nerve-tingling read. Eerie things happen in the haunted mountains of Telemark, Norway...

  • a nykk in horse-shape haunts the lake
  • tusse-folk dance through the gloomy forests
  • trolls lurk in the heights
  • a Finn magician loans his enchanted handkerchief
  • mer-creatures sluice through the sea's billows
  • a magic harp strums doom
  • ...and many more tales

"Hurray for Spun Again 2: Telemark! Joyce Holt has the magical ability to not only retell old folktales with authenticity and charm but to immerse me so deeply in the experience that I have trouble coming back to this century. You'll want to take these short trips with this gifted writer again and again!"

~ DebbAnn, January 2020







One Sea, Many Shores

One great sea wraps our world, lapping many coasts with its never-ending tides.

These pages hold tales from far-flung beaches, awash with folklore and history. Dip in for glimpses of distant lands!

  • "Kiss the Sky" from the Oregon coast
  • "Hero of the Desolate Shore" from Norway
  • "Mamba" from east Africa
  • "Maps and Monsoons" from Australia
  • "Death from the Sea" from China
  • "Phantoms from the North" from Chile
  • ...and more, including seaside excerpts from TROLL AND TRYLLERI and BRIGAND'S BLADE






Haunts

Spooky short stories

They lurk half-hidden in shadows, under the forest eaves, around the bend ahead, behind the old stone wall...

...huddled in all their old haunts, just waiting for someone to wander by within reach.

This might be a good night to stay home.

HAUNTS brings you 13 lucky (unlucky?) spooky short stories, a ghostly poem, and monster-filled excerpts from six novels. Lock the doors and windows, cuddle on the sofa for the evening, and indulge yourself in a scary read!







Low prices on paperbacks!

Only $11-13 per paperback novel… and less for the anthologies.

Priced even lower: $2.99 per Kindle ebook.
You can get the 5 book series, Tapestry of Cumbria,
on Kindle for only $14.95!