Book Extract: Whispers Through The Canvas by K.J. McGillick

I’m very pleased to be welcoming K.J. McGillick back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for Whispers Through The Canvas.

Murder… Across The Fractured Corridors of Time.

Plunged into a centuries-old conspiracy, unconventional art historian Rowan Southeil must race against time to stop an ancient evil from rewriting history. When a young artist is murdered in a chilling echo of medieval violence, Rowan finds herself drawn to a seemingly unrelated clue – a 16th-century painting drenched in arcane symbols. Aided by the victim’s haunting presence, Rowan delves into the painting’s mysterious past, uncovering a dark conspiracy that stretches back generations.

Teaming up with the pragmatic Detective Lancaster, the intuitive Rowan follows a daring journey through time, from the storied halls of 16th-century Tudor London to the secretive 17th-century Vatican. As she awakens powerful elemental forces within herself, Rowan must decipher the painting’s secrets – and the connection to the medieval-style murder – before Lev Rubilov, a dark centuries-old occultist, can harness its magic to rewrite history and restore a twisted vision of the past.

For fans of genre-blending thrillers like A Discovery of Witches and Outlander, this captivating novel weaves together mystery, the supernatural, and high-stakes time travel in a race against the clock to stop an ancient evil. Whispers Through The Canvas is a crime story, filled with action and adventure, within a historical fantasy milieu. If you love kick-ass heroines who have a bit of life experience and walk on the wild side of magic, this book is for you.


K.J. McGillick has shared an extract today. We hope you enjoy. 


*****beginning of extract*****


“I would go out on a limb and say this wasn’t meant for public display. It would invite too much speculation. Whereas Tudor portraits functioned as propaganda, someone commissioned this for discreet viewing.”

Moving closer, I scrutinized the artist’s technique. “If Teerlinc indeed painted this, it’s exceptionally rare. She seldom ventured into full portraits.”

As I prepared to take another step forward, my movement halted abruptly when a subtle blue spark crackled across the painting. Was it a warning attempting to ward me off? Or an invitation to intrigue me further?

“I’m utterly captivated by the enigmatic subject of this portrait,” I murmured. “Observe how masterfully the artist captures her confidence, her poise. And let me draw your attention to her attire, which initially suggests an affiliation with the innermost circles of the royal court.

“However, her crimson gown presents two significant contradictions to that assumption. First, that vivid scarlet shade was exclusively reserved for royalty and the highest echelons of nobility during that era. A woman of lesser rank would never dare wear such a garment in public, nor would the person who owned it allow this portrait to be openly displayed. Second, intricately woven into the embroidery are patterns and symbols I would equate with arcane hieroglyphics.

“If you examine the background closely, you’ll notice the artist has suffused it with cyphers and emblems commonly associated with the occult arts. While such mystical practices were indeed alive during that period, they were always shrouded in secrecy and caution.”

He leaned in closer, brow furrowed in contemplation. “Fascinating analysis. What deeper meaning do you derive from these contradictions and symbolic flourishes?”

-The protagonist art scholar reluctant witch is describing the painting found at the murder scene to the detective.

“An artist venturing into such esoteric territory had to tread with utmost care, even for private commissions,” I replied gravely. “This was an era fraught with religious upheaval and vicious conflicts. What might have been viewed as relatively innocuous mysticism in 1533 could easily result in charges of heresy and a death sentence by 1545. The fact that the painter incorporated such overt emblems of the magical arts suggests to me they were taking an enormous, perhaps calculated risk. It reinforces my belief this was indeed a highly secretive private commission.”

“Occult symbols, you say?” His brow furrowed as he leaned in closer, scrutinizing the canvas intently. “How intriguing,” he murmured, eyes widening slightly. “I recently delved into my ancestry and uncovered ties to women accused of witchcraft in my family tree. This sheds new light on that hidden history. Could that orb perhaps be a witch ball?”

I gave a solemn nod. “Indeed. The brazen display of esoteric iconography leaves little doubt the sitter was renowned for consorting with mystical forces,” I confirmed. “An extraordinarily bold proclamation to make through art in that era.”

“I see,” he said, inching nearer to study the enigmatic sphere from another angle. “Are there any other symbolic flourishes or arcane elements I should be attuned to?”

As if responding to our probing gaze, the canvas seemed to subtly undulate and shimmer momentarily. Obscuring its cryptic secrets further… or enticing me to gaze deeper into its inscrutable depths? I leaned in warily, holding my breath. The faint rippling stilled. An auspicious portent… I chose to interpret it as such.

“As for the scarlet gown itself,” I continued, regaining my composure, “sorceresses of that time believed weaving hieroglyphs and arcane sigils into the embroidery could enhance the potency of their spell work. The bold crimson hue may have also symbolized her prowess and dominion over the mystical arts.


*****end of extract*****



About K.J. McGillick –

From the bustling courtrooms of Atlanta to the vibrant tapestry of 16th-century England, Kathleen McGillick’s life and career have been a captivating blend of legal expertise, artistic passion, and a thirst for adventure.

Fueled by an undergraduate and graduate degree in nursing, Kathleen built a foundation of compassion and care. This dedication to service later led her to pursue a Juris Doctorate, allowing her to navigate the intricacies of the legal system for nearly three decades. Her courtroom experience now breathes life into the intricate details of her legal thrillers, ensuring every courtroom scene crackles with authenticity.

But Kathleen’s story doesn’t end there. A deep fascination with art history led her to delve into the world of renowned artists and captivating eras. Her particular passion for 16th-century British history allows her to transport readers to richly detailed historical settings, immersing them in the culture, politics, and societal nuances of the time.

Driven by an unwavering dedication to her craft, Kathleen has independently published eleven legal thrillers since 2018. Her commitment extends beyond solo creation, as she actively engages with the writing community, honing her skills through workshops and courses led by renowned authors.

And when she’s not crafting captivating narratives, Kathleen embarks on international journeys, soaking in diverse cultures and experiences that further enrich her writing. This global perspective adds another layer of depth and realism to her stories, allowing readers to connect with characters and settings that transcend geographical boundaries.

To delve deeper into Kathleen’s world and explore her captivating legal thrillers, visit her website at .

Say hello to Kathleen via her website, Facebook and Goodreads.

Whispers Through The Canvas was released in April 2024. Click here to buy on Amazon UK and Amazon US.


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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