Book Review: A Painted Winter – H. Bernard

Book Review: A Painted Winter – H. Bernard

Pictish Conspiracy #1
Release Date: December 21st 2021
Publisher: Shadowfax Publishing
Pages: 341
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.25/5 stars


In the misty highlands of fourth-century Scotland, two Pictish brothers conspire with the Ancient People from beyond the Great Wall to attack the Romans.

Roman power in Britannia is weakening. Brothers Brei and Taran, Princes, and warriors of a Pictish Kingdom, seek revenge against the Romans for attacking their city, killing their father, and taking their mother as a slave. The sudden arrival of Sorsha, a mysterious woman with an incredible gift, sets the brothers on a path to warfare.

A Painted Winter is book one of the four-part Pictish Conspiracy series. H. Barnard’s debut novel blends historical fiction and Celtic mythology in a thrilling adventure that will leave you wondering who the real barbarians are…


A Painted Winter is the first part in a four-part story that follows two princes from a Pictish Kingdom in fourth-century Scotland. Taran and Brei are still reeling from the Roman attack that took their mother and killed many in the village. When they come upon a strange woman whilst out on patrol, she tells them that the Romans were the cause. The power of the Romans in Britannia is fading and this sets Brei and Taran on a path of revenge against those who took their mother, but the strange woman isn’t all that she seems and within her lies an incredible gift.

A Painted Winter is an impressive debut novel. It’s a beautifully told story and was captivating from the outset. It felt quite fast-paced and I raced through this one pretty quickly, eager to know the fate of the characters. The author combines history and Celtic mythology and the story felt incredibly detailed and well researched. I found myself getting lost in this story for hours at a time and I cannot wait to see where Bernard takes the story in book two.

The story is mainly told from the perspective of Brei and Sorsha and both characters felt very realistic and fleshed out. I was completely fascinated by Sorsha’s powers and I can’t wait to see how that develops in the sequel. Brei too is an interesting character, wrestling with the mistakes he has made and trying his best to protect his people. A Painted Winter is a really compelling historical fiction tale, one that hooks you in from the very first chapter. It was an excellent start to the series and I am eagerly awaiting the release of book two. If you’re a historical fiction fan – this one is a must-read.

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