Thanks to HQ and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.
This book is set during a really rather fascinating period of British History, the period which formed the bedrock of the later War of the Roses. The year is 1399 and Constance of York, Lady Despenser, King Richard’s cousin decides to stir the decidedly risky pot of courtly intrigue.
The real Constance was a fascinating woman and the author has done a great job of bringing her back to life in this novel. Her active involvement in the plots against Henry IV despite women’s lack of political power or autonomy during this period automatically makes her a fascinating character. I love morally grey female characters so enjoyed getting an insight into her mind and character.
This book is exhaustively researched and bursting with historical detail. This unfortunately sometimes comes at expense of the plot and pace. A wealth of detail is not necessarily a bad thing, but this novel is marketed as a thrilling tale of treason, love and betrayal but I found the pace to be quite plodding at some points, particularly the beginning.
The story takes a while to get going and the complexity of the interconnected character relationships made it tough going at first (damn those 14th century nobles who repeatedly used a small number of names), I found myself constantly looking up Constance’s family tree online to remind myself who everyone was. Constance’s personality and inner thoughts really shine through but I don’t feel the other characters really made much of an impression on me and they all felt a bit flat.
Overall, an expertly researched historical fiction novel that didn’t quite do it for me.