I first learned of this book when I saw a tweet with a link to a teaser/trailer. This 60 second trailer made me want to know more about the book, and it made me want a trailer for my own book The Hounding. (It’s forthcoming.) I found the author’s blog, I went to amazon.com, and I knew for sure I wanted to read the book. Then an exciting thing happened. I won the book in a contest! Now, I have read it, so I want to tell you about it.
This is an historical novel set in Tudor times, the era of King Henry VIII specifically, but Bilyeau has moved a bit sideways and chosen something more obscure than Henry’s court. In this debut novel, her protagonist is a young novice of the Dominican Order, Joanna Stafford, who was also a noblewoman.
Soon after entering the novitiate, she goes off on her own to try to aid her cousin Margaret who is condemned as a traitor and is being burned at the stake. There she meets her father who is also doing something illegal and they are both confined to the Tower of London. From this exciting beginning the author takes us on a page turning adventure in which she leads us deeply into the life of the 16th century. I felt as though I had lived in the walls of the Tower, the Abbey, ridden on those rutted roads, cobbled streets, felt the damp cold, the hot summers, tasted the dry bread. My heart beat faster with every twist and turn.
I stayed up late, got up early to read on. I wanted to finish the book, and I didn’t want it to end. I’m delighted to know there is a sequel. If you enjoy a good Tudor novel, strong female protagonists, a great story and excellent writing, you will love this book.