Andreea Daia's Reviews > Prophecy

Prophecy by S.J. Parris
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's review
Apr 25, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: read-2011, arc, mystery, historical-fiction
Read from April 25 to June 28, 2011

******Full Disclosure**** This was an ARC copy, that was received through the GoodReads Advance program. I am grateful for the chance to have read this novel, which I might not have purchased otherwise.

I'm writing this as I still have about 30 pages to go, and, if my opinion changes, I'll update my review once I finish the novel.

First and foremost, this is not a bad thriller - it has suspense, mystery, tension, and the possible suspect keeps changing over and over (even if in the first half of the book, we along with the main character are convinced that know exactly who the murderer is).

The problem I see with this novel, its own undoing, is that the main character is named "Giordano Bruno" which may suggest to some that this is a historical book (in the sense that it is based on serious historical investigation). I'm not persuaded that this is the case: other than the names, there is little evidence that anything described in the book could have happened. In fact you can find more historical details on the Wikipedia page than in this novel.

However, if you look at it as thriller and not as historical fiction, I think this is a good story. Bruno, Walsingham (the queen's head of intelligence), and Castelnau are all characters alive with many (sometimes antagonistic) feelings and fueled by real ambitions. I did find Walsingham and even Castelnau sometimes overly affectionate - they both look at Bruno as a son and are warmhearted. I thought that this was maybe too much coming from the master of spies, although the author does offer a justification for it, in the death of Walsingham's daughter.

The occult layer of this novel is always present even if it is left undeveloped. Treating the Great Conjunction as a bad omen made me laugh (as it would made laugh anyone who did study a little bit of astrology), but I do understand that this was the view at the time (and for some people possibly even today). There is no Jupiter conjunction (with any planet, Saturn included) that foretells ill-fated events. The other occult details are again very vague, in spite of the fact that for some characters they represent their main motivation.

Stylistically, the writing is most often simple. The descriptions are quite good, and you can see that the author did her research concerning the life during that era. There were times when the description came at very bad-chosen moments (when Bruno runs for his life, I cared little of what is the color of the clouds) but I would say that these were exceptions.
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