Shortlisted in the Tír na nÓg Awards 2021
When circumstances compel Dorcas – a farmgirl in nineteenth-century Wales – to take up employment as a maid in Lord Penrhyn’s castle, her story becomes entwined with Eboni’s, an enslaved young woman in the imperial sugar plantations of Jamaica. Through the terrible pain they suffer at the hands of respective ‘masters’ – and their ultimate will to survive – this timely, historical novel throws light on the lives of two women cast into the long shadow of Penrhyn Castle, and the greed and cruelty which built it.
A novel of two halves, and of two voices underrepresented in Welsh writing and history, it is left largely to the reader to draw connections between these women’s experiences: to look beyond, as Dorcas does, idealised Jamaican scenes in paintings hanging on castle walls, and to question the legacy of the ineffable Lord Penrhyn – slate industry magnate, plantation owner – whose presence is felt though never seen throughout the book. Informed by thorough research and written with Angharad Tomos’ characteristic readability, the book’s accessibility belies its painful subject matter and the questions around race and social justice that Wales, and the world, must continue to face.
An established, award-winning author and prominent language activist, Tomos succeeds in Y Castell Siwgr to open to young readers and adults alike one of the darkest passages in Welsh history, and to do so with humanity and compassion.
“Given the unfortunate truth that racism is still alive and well in 2020, and that we live in the age of campaigns such as #BlackLivesMatter, Y Castell Siwgr is an extremely timely novel. Undoubtedly, I believe this novel will be an unique and worthy champion to educate about racism, slavery, and their connection to Wales. This novel should be read carefully and in detail, and shared widely. [...] This is undoubtedly a credible and powerful novel which succeeds in telling a historical story that’s as important as ever.”
Gareth Evans-Jones, Gwales.com
"This novel takes us to challenging new territory with the story of two young girls, Dorcas and Yamba, and although the novel is in two parts, the links between them strengthen the narrative… This volume is a very important contribution to Welsh literature and will appeal to both young people and adults."
Adjudicator, Tir na n-Og Awards 2021