THD: Amulets in the tomb

In The Healer’s Daughters, Elif makes a discovery that could change everything…

…The skeleton lying on its back was once a wealthy aristocrat, a leading citizen of Pergamon. A bronze box lies on a low marble pedestal near the skeleton’s feet.

Kneeling in front of the box, [Elif] begs for forgiveness. She then lifts the box’s lid, her headlamp shining on the rolls of parchment. When her hand shifts the parchment, the five gold amulets, each worth a fortune, gleam. She picks up the exquisite rendering of Athena. Each line, including the facial features and hands, is precise, close to perfect. Her own work, she fears, isn’t comparable. She squeezes her eyes shut and re-opens them. Still holding the goddess between her thumb and forefinger, she looks about the tomb at the human remains, the rock ceiling, the sealed entrance, the dusty floor.… This amulet, which would seemingly solve her brother’s immediate problem, would create still more grave risks for him and the rest of her family.

THD: Red City Review

“In The Healer’s Daughtersauthor Jay Amberg delivers a superb, thrilling work of historical fiction with believable characters and a captivating plot. Full of Turkish traditions, Amberg invites readers to immerse themselves in the country’s culture and customs throughout the story. The Healer’s Daughters’ complex and layered plot—delicately laced with mystery—keeps readers engaged, eager to learn what happens next, and the simple black and white illustrations which appear throughout the book provide helpful glimpses into Bergama and the ancient sites central to Tuğçe’s investigation. The Healer’s Daughters is a uniquely gripping story that will appeal to everyone from history enthusiasts to fans of mysteries and political thrillers.”

Thank you to Red City Review for the excellent new review. You can read more here.

Interview, Dialogue: Between the Lines with Susan Wingate


Next Tuesday, October 15, I will be live on the air with author and podcast host Susan Wingate. Please listen here at 12 pm Central time. Susan is a joy to talk with; you can listen to my previous interview, for Bone Box, here.

THD: Serkan in the gardens

Serkan walks through the gardens of Gülhane Park and contemplates his family.

Walking along the stone path in Gülhane Park, Serkan Boroğlu smiles wryly at a circular flowerbed planted to resemble a nazar boncuğu, the blue and yellow and white talisman that protects believers from the evil eye. Though the park runs for a long way below Topkapı Palace’s outer fortification walls, he has never been here before. His clients always loved his tours of Topkapı Palace and nearby Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, but none of them, nobody ever, asked to spend a serene hour or two strolling here among the tall trees and multihued gardens. And it never once occurred to him to suggest a sojourn here. His sister might like it—no, though it’s peaceful, it is managed and manicured, not natural and not nearly wild enough for her. And his mother would want to dig it all up just to find shards of lost civilizations.

THD: Tuğçe at work

Here we have Tuğçe Iskan, working late at the Ankara Ministry of Culture, right after the Bergama bombing.

Shortly before midnight, Tuğçe Iskan stares at her computer in the windowless Ankara Ministry of Culture office that she shares with seven others. Despite the horrific news from Bergama, she is the only one still here working. Her colleagues left several hours ago, but she has stayed, culling through the media coverage, the official reports, and scores of files, old and new. Her memory is pretty much photographic, and she is already noticing patterns in the information, some of which she will share with her boss.

Iskan, a large woman, tall and solidly built, sits back and runs her fingers through her short blonde hair, scratching her scalp. At the office, she wears long-sleeved blouses buttoned to the collar partly to discourage her colleagues, all men, who seem obsessed with her figure, and partly to cover her tattoos, which she has chosen not to share with them. Now, though, both sleeves are rolled up. On her left forearm, in bold letters, is Ataturk’s dictum, “My people are going to learn the principles of democracy, the dictates of truth, and the teachings of science. Superstition must go.” On her right is, “The greatest war is the war against ignorance.”

THD, Windy City Reviews

“Truly showcased Amberg’s talent of getting into the mind of his characters and creating strong empathy among his readers.… A spellbinding story that will have readers on a rollercoaster of emotion as they follow the many characters through terrorist attacks and treasure hunts. If you like suspense mixed with historical fiction and topped with some action and adventure, then I highly recommend this book.”

Great new review of The Healer’s Daughters on Windy City Reviews. Thanks to Starza Thompson for her thoughtful and thorough response.

THD, illustration x, acropolis in Bergama

This next illustration is not included in The Healer’s Daughters. It’s Jonathan Smith’s majestic rendition of the acropolis in Pergamon (present day Bergama).