Introduction. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while after listening to Tracy Borman talk about it and her other books on Tudor’s Dynasty Podcast with Rebecca Larson. I’ve read a lot about the witch trials in America as well as books about the Tudors, but nothing in between, so this was a gem to find.
Summary. Borman chose to show King James I’s darker side (which isn’t that hard given his extremism towards witches, Catholics, etc.) in this tale. The story revolves around Frances, a former lady-in-waiting and “wise woman” to Queen Elizabeth I, who, after the death of the queen, finds herself unwillingly thrust into the political intrigues of the new English court. Finding it vastly contrasted to the more morally upheld court of the late queen, Frances must hide her healing abilities from the king’s henchman and witch hunter, William Cecil. However, as companion to the princess, and therefore within Cecil’s close watch, Frances finds it difficult to do so. Luckily, she finds a friend in lawyer and Catholic sympathizer Thomas, who, despite their growing attraction, may be more trouble than she initially thought.
- True to history. This story included a lot of historical events (which also included the inevitable ending) and I’m glad that she included detailed author’s notes about each of the main characters.
- Details. Borman included just the right amount of detail when it came to the historical events as well as the characters. Character development was also a strength as well as comparisons between the two reigns (she did not info-dump, which is always an asset when reading/writing historical fiction).
- Slight drag towards the end. Usually when reading books, I see stories drag mostly in the beginning’s building action, however, I was surprised to see the lag between two of the main events of the story between the middle and the ending. I suppose it may have been needed to build up to the main event in the story, but it took me a while to get through.
Conclusion. It looks like this book has a sequel and will be part of a trilogy. I would recommend this story to anybody who loves English history, bittersweet endings, courageous men and women, or a combination of all three.