So many feelings about this book! Lada is a brilliant, complex and utterly believeable character - as if Catherine de' Medici was crossed with Arya StSo many feelings about this book! Lada is a brilliant, complex and utterly believeable character - as if Catherine de' Medici was crossed with Arya Stark, and set down in 15th Century Wallachia. Her father is the ruler of that land, but holds his lands as a fiefdom of the Ottoman Empire, so when the Sultan demands hostages a guarantee of his loyalty, Lada and her brother Radu become 'guests' of the Ottoman Court. That's where they meet and become friends with the Sultan's younger son, Mehmed...
*falls down rabbit hole while I check Wikipedia to discover Mehmed was a real person, and the incidents that happen in the book happened historically*
Lada is absolutely fierce and ruthless, unyielding in her determination to be her own woman and to return to her homeland...despite her growing tender feelings towards Mehmed. Radu, on the other hand, comes to love the people, culture and religion of where he lives, but also battles against his feelings for Mehmed...in a time where to reveal them could mean torture and death.
Dark and atmospheric and utterly engrossing, this is one of the best historical fiction books I've read, bar none. ...more
I loved Vibiana. I loved that she was such a pain in the face to everyone, including herself; that she responded to rejection with defiance and humourI loved Vibiana. I loved that she was such a pain in the face to everyone, including herself; that she responded to rejection with defiance and humour and was determined to stick, mischeviously, contrarily and stubbornly, to what she believed. ...more
Gorgeously illustrated, but the story I found a bit muddy and confused - if we're going to revisit Moriarty in graphic novel form, I prefer The LeagueGorgeously illustrated, but the story I found a bit muddy and confused - if we're going to revisit Moriarty in graphic novel form, I prefer The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen's take. I did appreciate the hat-tip to George Orwell's Burmese Days, though....more
James Marwood is a lowly clerk, watching St Paul's burn in London 1666 when he rescues a young urchin from the flames; that urchin is Catherine LovettJames Marwood is a lowly clerk, watching St Paul's burn in London 1666 when he rescues a young urchin from the flames; that urchin is Catherine Lovett in disguise, a gentlewoman whose father is a hunted fugitive - thus does he get unwillingly drawn into a conspiracy that reaches back to before the time of the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, when the Regicides plotted the death of King Charles I. Political plots and intrigues abound - the Restoration of King Charles II after the bloody reign of Cromwell is not welcomed by everyone, and the state is ruthless in crushing anything - or anyone - seen to threaten the fragile peace. Atmospheric and fast-paced, this is an absorbing read - perfect for fans of C J Sansom and S J Parris....more
What a tremendously entertaining series, and what an inspired decision, to write a homage to Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express! I love thWhat a tremendously entertaining series, and what an inspired decision, to write a homage to Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express! I love the descriptions of the marquetry on the train, the lavish afternoon teas, the beautifully turned out attendants - but also the hints of darker things to come in Europe in the 1930s - anti-semitism, anarchists, spying, betrayal. And Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are slap bang in the middle of it all, solving a murder, hunting an enemy spy, trying to outwit Hazel's father who has forbidden them from detecting anymore, and demands that Hazel behave like a proper young lady... It all sounds perfectly preposterous, but the Daisy and Hazel are so real, you accept the whole thing.
Like the perfect blend of Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton that you didn't know you needed, these are a joy to read!...more
A really intriguing, well written tale set in Victorian England; when Faith's family moves to the island of Vane with with her family, rumours and scaA really intriguing, well written tale set in Victorian England; when Faith's family moves to the island of Vane with with her family, rumours and scandal follow in their wake. Her father, a renowned 'natural scientist' is famous for his fossil finds - curious items that seem to throw doubt on Darwin's newly published Theory of Evolution and back up Bible lore. But there are even darker mysteries on the island - what is in the mysterious box of botanical specimens that her father keeps secret? Who does he go out to visit late at night? And when disaster strikes, who can Faith trust for the truth?
Atmospheric and gripping, this is a brilliant take on a Victorian murder mystery, with a fascinating young woman at it's heart. A fabulous feminist fable....more
Atmospheric and intriguing, the tale begins in Dublin - tenements, back alleys, docks and theatre - before travelling to a decaying big house in the IAtmospheric and intriguing, the tale begins in Dublin - tenements, back alleys, docks and theatre - before travelling to a decaying big house in the Irish countryside. Immortal beings stalk the entertainers of the city in search of prey in a clever twist on vampirism; it is not the lust for blood that fuels the hunt, but rather the need to feed on spectacle and emotions... I loved the characters of Tina and Joe, especially against the background of tenement and theatrical life in Dublin - I would have loved to have spent more time experiencing that lively, filthy world. Also, Harry Houdini ftw! When the scene changes to the big house. we gradually begin to discover the secrets locked within, secrets vital to the continued existence of Corneilius, Vincent and Raquel, the immortals that call it home. It's very difficult to describe this unusual book without giving away important plot points - Gothick. horror, science fiction mingled with gritty realism, all suffused with passion and belief in the power of love. A compelling story....more
An atmospheric, historical mystery set in India during the sway of the East India Company, this evocative novel moves from the slums of Calcutta to thAn atmospheric, historical mystery set in India during the sway of the East India Company, this evocative novel moves from the slums of Calcutta to the wild and treacherous jungle. At its heart is a mismatched duo of investigators; Jeremiah Blake, William Avery, a young ambitious Englishman who clings to the Company's values and is the archetypal Englishman abroad, and Jeremiah Blake, a battle-hardened veteran who has rejected the Company and 'gone native'. When these two are sent on a mission to find the missing celebrated and notorious writer Xavier Mountstuart, they face danger and treachery at every turn; bandits in the jungle, attacks from wild animals, but more dangerously, scheming and lies from both the Company and its men... A wonderfully evocative tale with great characters and gripping writing - can't wait to read more from this author!...more
What knocked this down from a four star to a three star review was the realisation of how horribly Heyer treats her female characters, especially theWhat knocked this down from a four star to a three star review was the realisation of how horribly Heyer treats her female characters, especially the poorer ones not of 'gentle birth'. Belinda is only 16, yet because she is a 'love child' and penniless, there really isn't any issue with either marrying her off (preferable) or letting her wander blindly into a life of prostitution (Haymarket ware). She is utterly passive, and only Gilly's determination not to let others get the better of him saves her from being whored out, against her will and certainly without any understanding of what is taking place.
Yet Tom, also vagrant, without visible means of support and only a year younger, is protected from any of this because a) he's male and b) his father has money.
The fact that I've read this several times before and only realised how very young Belinda is at this point makes me feel a little queasy....more
**spoiler alert** I enjoyed this book for the sense of grimy London, the atmosphere of rot and corruption from the Marshalsea debtors prison, the feel**spoiler alert** I enjoyed this book for the sense of grimy London, the atmosphere of rot and corruption from the Marshalsea debtors prison, the feel of a city on the edge and only interested in having a rollicking time, greedy to gobble up its pleasures - while it can... The research involved in the book is evident without being too in-yer-face, the characters are great and the intermingling of historical characters with fictional is deftly done; my one real quibble is that the mystery at the heart of the whole book is a bit underpowered, solved by coincidence really... Enjoyable though, and I'd love there to be a sequel, because even though the mystery itself was a bit thin, the feel of the stinking, brawling, feverishly energised city of 17th Century London was so vivid you could see and taste it....more
It is early in the Great War and Major John Watson is at the front line treating wounded soldiers, when he notices suspicious circumstances surroundinIt is early in the Great War and Major John Watson is at the front line treating wounded soldiers, when he notices suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of a soldier he knows - a death that seem to implicate his new methods of blood transfusion. With both his own reputation and that of a life saving procedure at risk, he has no choice but to investigate - this time, without the help of his erstwhile companion, Sherlock Holmes. A detailed, bleakly realistic account of life in the trenches with the stink of decay, rats, lice, poor food and primitive medical conditions is stitched together with a page turner crime thriller. ...more
I absolutely loved the first half of this book, in which we meet Little Hawk, an eleven year old boy about to prove himself a man. He must live for thI absolutely loved the first half of this book, in which we meet Little Hawk, an eleven year old boy about to prove himself a man. He must live for three harsh winter months completely alone, armed with only his bow and arrows, tomahawk and knife to hunt, find shelter and to protect himself against other, fiercer predators... It is an immediately absorbing and engaging narrative - Little Hawk searching for his manitou, striving to survive in the wilderness, enduring the deep snows and bitter storms of winter - all gripping stuff. Likewise the terrible discovery he makes when he returns to his village - brilliant. It is when the story shifts to the point of view of the young white settler, John Wakeley, that the narrative feels like it loses some of its freshness and verve. It is still well written; the character of John is well realised and, once you can accept the more supernatural/mystical elements to the story, it all goes well. It's just that I've seen too many episodes of Little House on the Prairie and various Westerns, and so it feels like a too-well trodden path. It is interesting though, getting a closer view of the religious tensions that caused deep divisions within the settlers, not to mention the more benevolent view of the native tribes taken by some of them....more