Where War came to North America
From Sisterhood of the Sword: From deep within the forest I heard the echoes of soldiers calling to each other. A tune caressed my ear, and I heard the clop clop of hooves and the groan of carts rolling past on the trail Nick led us to. We joined them on the forest trail, and they seemed undisturbed by our presence. I never fully saw my guardians, but I felt them press against me on all sides.
“Where are we going?” Lenore asked as we left the buildings behind, and the trail descended through the forest toward the ocean. Fortunately there was little snow, and the trail was easy to follow.
“Sleepy Cove. Where we’re going is a gun battery used as a command center during World War II. From here they monitored for submarines and mines. The whole place is amazing. The hike will be worth it.”
We walked several minutes, with my friends oblivious that they walked among ghosts. Then we arrived at some ruins clinging to a cliff with a crumbling cement wall surrounding it. Where the wall ended, a chain link fence resumed. Signs warned: “Keep Out” and “Danger.”
Nick squeezed through a gap between wall and fence.
“But the signs,” I flapped my hand.
“Live a little, Huck,” Lenore chided. “Don’t drift back into the slow lane. You’re way cooler now. Almost.”
I sighed and slid through the gap. We entered a World War II fortification. Above us two square lookout towers would have given soldiers an excellent view of the harbour mouth. Two gun emplacements remained, but the guns were gone.
This scene from Sisterhood of the Sword (available September 2023) takes place in Sleepy Cove, which is located near York Redoubt, just outside of Halifax, Canada. Jamie is prone to seeing the Dead, and a place where war existed since 1793, there is no doubt ghosts will linger.
This area makes perfect sense for a book about time travel and historical fiction. It is magic realism where real life events are infused with the supernatural and it takes a good eye to tell one from the other.
York Redoubt was a key element in the defense of Halifax Harbour in the 19th and 20th centuries, and saw many additions to its fortifications. It was a command center for the local harbour defenses in World War II, which included observation posts, a defensive minefield and a new gun battery below the fort at Sleepy Cove covering the anti-submarine net which stretched across the harbour's entrance from Fort McNab on McNabs Island. York Redoubt remained in military use until 1956.
Buildings in the redoubt complex include what remains of the Duke of York's Martello tower, built in 1798; other fortifications from around 1800 and 1900; and advanced fortifications and artillery from World War II. York Redoubt has many examples of rifled muzzle loader cannon from the 1870s period. An open-air collection of unmounted cannon within the fort has several pieces of artillery of various periods, including a large 9.62-inch breech loader that had been mounted at the Sandwich Point battery, part of the York Redoubt complex.
Structures at the water's edge at Sleepy Cove battery, which were temporarily closed to the public, include three search light batteries, two concrete lookout towers and two gun emplacements which originally held two 12-pounder guns, but were later replaced with 6-pounder guns.
Even when Sleepy Cove was closed to the public, the public sneaked in much as Jamie and her friends did. Graffiti artists covered every room of the complex. This is what initially gave me the idea for the book. In a previous blog I described the painting of the man in the top hat, which Jamie touches. It's a portal to another time, and she just so happens to carry a sword that exists outside Time. A sword that has resurrected two people, one by accident and one with intention.
Anything is possible at this point. Jamie will find herself back in World War II and in the hands of a Nazi spy who is more than he appears. If you've kept up with the Jamie Poole series, you can imagine who this is. Things cannot go well.
I first visited Sleepy Cove a decade ago. All the layers of history from 1793 and forward are painted atop each other. The thing with this area is the fact that when the war ended, they did not do a good cleanup. The complex has not weathered well between the graffiti and harsh storms, but it doesn't take much to look around and see find the remains of the anti-submarine nets, cables used for communication between the mainland and islands in the mouth of Halifax Harbour.
My intention in bringing this book to light was to allow the reader a glimpse into a modern city with traces of war everywhere you look. Halifax was founded as a garrison city. It remains a military city. And one does not have to look far to see the evidence.
And what if you had the chance to slip back in Time and see this city in its prime when war wasn't something whispered on the wind? What if you could see it?
Every book in the Jamie Poole series is based on historical fact, and Sisterhood of the Sword is no different.
For Jamie, it will be a defining moment as she struggles to reconcile where she is and how she actually got there. She will get closer to unmasking the psychopath time traveler. She will uncover unexpected treasure in the most unexpected places. For those who have followed Jamie so far in her journey, this is a must read.
It is unfortunate that the structures are crumbling now, but once upon a time, they helped keep all of North America safe from enemy submarines.
Sisterhood of the Sword will be available on your local Amazon store in September 2023. It will also be available in the Halifax area directly from the author and from preferred retailers, including Dartmouth Book Exchange and Cape and Cowl Comics and Collectibles. We will have a third option for Halifax and Maritime customers soon. Stay tuned for the announcement on that.