The Blurb (from Goodreads):
Upon the death of Mary I (Bloody Mary), Elizabeth I takes the throne and Brendan Prescott is called to aid the young queen amid a realm plunged into chaos and a court rife with conspiracy
London, 1558. Queen Mary is dead, and 25-year old Elizabeth ascends the throne. Summoned to court from exile abroad, Elizabeth’s intimate spy, Brendan Prescott, is reunited with the young queen, as well as his beloved Kate, scheming William Cecil, and arch-rival, Robert Dudley. A poison attempt on Elizabeth soon overshadows her coronation, but before Brendan can investigate, Elizabeth summons him in private to dispatch him on a far more confidential mission: to find her favored lady in waiting, Lady Parry, who has disappeared during a visit to her family manor in Yorkshire.
Upon his arrival at the desolate sea-side manor where Lady Parry was last seen, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery in Vaughn Hall, the more he learns that in his zeal to uncover the truth, he could be precipitating Elizabeth’s destruction.
From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the deadly underworld of London, Brendan must race against time to unravel a vendetta that will strike at the very core of his world—a vendetta that could expose a buried past and betray everything he has fought for, including his loyalty to his queen.
I’ve enjoyed this book hugely, as I’ve enjoyed every book in Christopher Gortner’s Spymaster series. He has a beautiful, easy writing style and each book is a fast-paced, action-packed, rollercoaster ride that still manages to bring the world of Elizabethan London roaring to life. The characters are absolutely spot-on, and the historical background is leavened into the dough of the story with a light, sure touch. The young Queen Elizabeth is made human in these books – an intelligent yet vulnerable woman who must fight to survive and rule. I also love the characterisation of the story’s protagonist, the illegitimate Brendan Prescott who is torn between love and duty in a way that rings very true. I’m hoping that Christopher will write many more books in this series – as long as he writes them, I will buy them.
You might also like to read my review of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte: