I had the pleasure of ‘meeting’ mystery author Dora Ilieva in a Goodreads group many months ago, yet only recently read her second novel, The Master. I was blown away! She’s quite a talented author who infuses archaeology and history into her story, and takes us on a tour of Eastern Europe to boot. I recently discovered the third novel in the Sam and Kossara series, currently entitled White Clay, will be released this winter. I can’t wait to read it!
Take a moment and read her lovely article about her homeland Bulgaria. I know it’s on my ‘to visit’ list now.
When God Created the World by Dora Ilieva
When God created the world, he gave every country something to be proud of – tall mountains, glamorous beaches, fantastic forests and boundless steppes. The peoples were happy because each of them had a natural wonder that made it unique. However, in his magnanimity God forgot about a tiny country located on the Balkan Peninsula between the River Danube, the Black Sea, and the mountain ranges which marked its western and southern borders. “Lord,” the people of the tiny country said, “how come you forgot about us? Do you not love us?” God was so embarrassed by his omission, he blessed the country with a little bit of everything – golden sands along the Black Sea; mountain peaks that pierce the sky; lavish plains and serene valleys.
My mother told me this legend. She had learned it from her parents who knew it from theirs. Every Bulgarian child knows why so much beauty is packed in such a small place. In summer and winter, spring and fall a part of the country offers unforgettable experiences to its visitors.
When I was a child, my parents would take me on long mountain treks in Pirin, Rila and the Rhodope Mountains. We climbed the noble Mussala, the tallest peak in Bulgaria from which on a good day you can see the Aegean Sea, or so people say. We slept in tents by one of the Seven Rila Lakes – beautiful high mountain lakes where members of the Brotherhood of Light perform their sacred dances every August.
In the Rhodope Mountains which are lower and whose peaks are more like rolling hills rather than fierce, jagged arms reaching for the sky, we picked wild berries and in Pirin and Rila, very alpine and sharp-sloped, we looked for the mysterious edelweiss. I always complained that it was too much walking, but deep down I was awed by the incredible landscape that surrounded us.
When we were not climbing mountains, we visited historical places – Roman ruins, Byzantine cities, medieval Bulgarian fortresses, monasteries and churches abounding in legends about mythical heroes, lost maidens, three-headed monsters and breathtakingly beautiful wood nymphs called samodiva.
As with many children, my favourite place to visit was the Black Sea. I knew it was called black due to its treacherous storms which had taken the lives of many sailors, but to me its waters were warm and inviting. My parents liked camping by the sea, and so did I, but we also loved visiting the ancient cities of Sozopol (Appolonia) and Nessebar (Messembria) whose quaint wooden houses overlook the blue water of the harbour. There we enjoyed the local delicacies – shrimp, oysters and a variety of fresh fish.
Are there any places that we did not visit? Of course. The country is packed with them. My personal dream is to wake up bathed in the aroma of the Rose Valley, or to experience the mossy coolness of the Devil’s Gorge from where Orpheus is said to have descended into the underworld in search of his beloved Eurydice. And if we follow in his footsteps, who knows, we may be able to travel to another world.
About the Author
I am a Bulgarian-Canadian author. My first novel is The Devil’s Gorge – a tale of mystery, love and betrayal. I grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria and moved to Canada with my family when I was twenty-eight. Reading is what I love best. I often read several books at a time. My time is split between reading, writing, family and work. Travelling, watching crime shows and observing people are also things that I like. My second book, the short story collection Faces, deals with the all too human problems city dwellers encounter on a daily basis. In August, 2016, I published my third book The Master which takes the reader on a roller-coaster journey in search of an artefact that could change the fate of the world. White Clay, the third novel in the Sam and Kossara series, will be released this winter.
The Master by Dora Ilieva
A strange proposal jolts Kossara out of her comfortable, but dull life. Haunted by the memory of her dead father, she returns to her native Bulgaria to retrieve an artefact that would re-launch her academic career. She soon discovers that she is getting more than she bargained for. When her life and the lives of those dear to her are threatened, she must decide whether to give up or persevere.
Buy the paperback or eBook now on Amazon.
My 5 star review of The Master:
The Master is an enthralling amateur sleuth mystery set in Bulgaria, Croatia, Bosnia and Italy.
When a gifted archaeology student working at a Starbucks in Canada is offered the opportunity to help find an important manuscript in her native Bulgaria, she jumps at the chance to work in her field. Little does she know her search will bring both her and her friends in mortal danger.
The search Kossara and her friends embark on through archives, churches, historical ruins and cities all across Europe, is well conceived and believable. The secrets they uncover are exciting and engaging.
The author’s writing style, descriptions and cast of university age characters are well suited for both young adults (teenage) and adult readers.
I also enjoyed traveling through the Balkans, an area I want to visit. This was a lovely introduction to the region by an author who has clearly visited the places she describes and is able to convey them to the readers in a way that takes us along for the ride, as well.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story, setting, characters mystery and research. It is a fascinating, gripping read that kept me up way past my bedtime! I highly recommend this novel to mystery fans of any age. I look forward to reading more from this talented author.
Dora is also one of many talented authors in Travel By Book, a Facebook group dedicated to travel fiction and non-fiction. If writing or reading books strong in setting is your thing, please join us!