Having really enjoyed The Returned last year I was excited to see these short story prequels come out. In The First, we get to see how it all began with the return of Edmund Blithe and how this mysterious occurrence not only effects him but his fiancé and the rest of the world as they try to navigate through this unusual, frightening and exciting miracle.
It has been about a year since Emily's fiancé, Edmund Blithe, was hit by a bus and died. Edmund had proposed the day before he died and it has taken Emily this entire year to try and move on with her life. So imagine her surprise when the news shows Edmund, very much alive and being held somewhere in Washington DC after walking into work like no time had passed. Emily wants answers and sets out of Washington DC to try and find Edmund.
Edmund, for his part, has no recollection of his death and feels like he just woke up like any other day. After going to work and seeing the terror and surprise on the faces of his coworkers, Edmund is taken to Washington to answer round after round after round of questions. Scared himself and wanting to speak to Emily he is told he will need to wait to see her and needs to help those questioning him figure out what is going on. Everyone is fascinated and terrified of what this means and are determined to get to the bottom of it. But one man will be touched enough by Edmund's need to see Emily to help him make it happen.
Going back and forth between Emily and Edmund's points of view, The First is a fascinating look at not only the world's attempt to solve the mystery of why Edmund came back but the smaller, much sweeter, attempt by Emily and Edmund to come back to each other and reestablish that relationship Emily thought she had lost. It is short and sweet and very satisfying. I am excited to see where Mr. Mott takes the other two short stories!
Floats the Dark Shadow is a beautifully written story that is dark, disturbing and sensual as a tale of love and art against the backdrop of madness and murder. The portions told from the perspective of the killer, believing he is the reincarnation of Gilles de Rais, are beyond chilling and made me feel like I was actually within the mind of a madman. Following Theo and Inspector Devaux as they both try to uncover who is kidnapping, torturing and killing innocent children was thrilling and I can honestly say I did not see the eventual revelation coming!
My only complaint with Floats the Dark Shadow deals with the format and not the story at all, which I loved. I listened to the audiobook version of the story and given the many French names, the accents put on by the narrator and the fact that most of the characters sounded alike made it hard to keep up with the intricate plotlines and differentiate between the characters. Being that this story is a mystery to unravel the killer I found this frustrating and confusing at times.
With this being said, the descriptions of Paris and the surrounding countryside are breathtaking and really transport the reader/listener to Belle Epoque Paris. Theo is by far my favorite character as I found her to be well developed and admirable in her originality, determination and kindness. I believe if I had been reading this story as opposed to listening to it and able to flip back and forth between the pages I would have had less difficulty keeping up with the intricacies of the plot to discover the sadistic murderer and this would have helped with the confusion I experienced. I will also note to those thinking about picking this one up that it is quite graphic at times but, for me, this was needed to highlight the depravity of the participants and the deep-seeded dementia of the killer.
I would recommend this to those who love dark novels set in Paris during this time and those that enjoy a twisted journey to find a murderer and stop him from bringing more children into his web of destruction.
The narrator had such an expressive voice that it was a joy to keep listening. All the action, romance and terror were evident in her voice and it really drew me in. It was a pleasant surprise to notice that the author was also the narrator!
Well since this is the first of a series I would compare it to the one other book in the series I have read (Blood Between Queens). I would also compare it to books by Philippa Gregory or Alison Weir. They are my other favorite writers of Tudor historical fiction and all these authors have a wonderfully descriptive and thrilling way of keeping the reader turning the pages (or continuing to listen in this case).
Her way of bringing feeling and inflection into the character's dialogue. While I know I would love reading the novel as well (and plan on reading the rest of the series) her voice was simply captivating and made it a really enjoyable experience.
The biggest reaction I had was anxiety when the characters were in danger. I found my heart beating faster and my breathing changing when they were in the middle of the action...I just wasn't sure what was going to happen!
When I read Blood Between Queens, the fifth book in the Thornleigh series, I was hooked! Being a huge fan of any novels that take place during Tudor times I was happy to see the well known history shown from the perspective of this fictional yet very real feeling family that have been tangled up in the world of the court since the beginning of Henry VIII's rule. But starting the series on book five brought up just as many questions as were answered. What brought these captivating people into the vicious world of the Tudor court? How had the family rivalry affecting our main heroine come to be? That being said, when I had the opportunity to listen to the audiobook version of the first novel in the series, The Queen's Lady, I jumped at the chance. And, I'm happy to say, I was not disappointed!
The Queen's Lady tells the story of Honor Larke, a young heiress that becomes the ward of Thomas More after a horrific kidnapping and rescue. Under the tutelage of More, Honor grows to become an intelligent and caring young woman, firm in the belief that her guardian can do no wrong. That is until he does...
As a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon, Honor is astounded to see the great Henry VIII try and thrust his devout and loving wife aside for the brash and grasping Anne Boleyn. Deciding to do all she can for her mistress, Honor begins carrying letters from the Queen to her allies. As she gets deeper and deeper involved, often putting her own life in danger, she begins to question everything she grew up believing, including the teachings of More. Her beliefs are further confounded when she begins working with Richard Thornleigh, a daring and reckless man who at first annoys Honor to no end but ends up winning her heart. As their relationship continues to evolve Honor must decide what is most important to her: the good she can do by continuing her work as a spy or the love and home Richard can provide for her?
Honor is such a wonderful character, full of spunk, bravery and humor. I loved watching her continue to struggle with her political and religious beliefs as well as her complicated love with Richard Thornleigh. I now feel like I have a good bases for the series and cannot wait to read the next three books in the series and any other that come after that.
Report Inappropriate Content