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  • So-so dual timeline mystery and a misleading cover

    In 2021 Mathilde is a photojournalist travelling the world in her beaten-up old campervan after her emotionally fragile mother died in a house fire when Mathilde was just sixteen years old. She receives a mysterious letter from an English solicitor demanding she appear at an old manor house in Norfolk. On arrival she discovers that her father did not die in a car bomb in Lebanon when she was five years old as she had always believed, instead he had survived and spent the rest of his life trying to find Mathilde and her mother, he has recently died and left the manor house to Mathilde. Although initially determined to sell the house and resume her travels, Mathilde finds herself drawn to the house, haunted by dreams of historical events and a mysterious figure. In 1584 Tom Lutton, a deaf mute apothecary, lands in England from his home in France. His skill at healing the captain of the ship that brought him to England lands him an interview and a position as assistant apothecary in the court of Queen Elizabeth I, where his lip reading skills bring him to the attention of the Queen's spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham. There are many similarities between Tom and Mathilde's lives, similarities which only become more tangled when Mathilde uncovers some of her new home's secrets. I have read several of these split narrative stories previously, Nicola Cornick's The Forgotten Sister being a recent example and, in my opinion, they work best when you get immersed into one story for long periods then metaphorically yanked into the present day, or vice versa. Unfortunately, in this book it felt like the two narratives were told in alternate chapters and so I never really got invested in either story. Also, perhaps because it was written in the third person, or perhaps because of the alternating timelines, I felt like the book was all telling and no showing, I didn't feel any increase in tension as Tom got drawn deeper and deeper into spying on the courtiers plotting against the Queen and the present day dramas felt equally lukewarm. Finally, did the person who chose the cover read the book? It's about an Elizabethan male apothecary spying for the Queen, who is the woman on the cover and what is the significance of the gold cup? Surely a man in a blue jacket would have been more apt? Or at least a picture of Queen Elizabeth if it had to be a woman? Overall, I felt the book just skated across what could have been a gripping historical tale and I didn't feel any investment in the characters, everyone felt a bit one-dimensional, even Tom and Mathilde. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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  • A sweeping saga.

    Magnificent! This historical novel was brilliantly written with a wonderful group of characters. The storyline is unique to me as I didn’t know how in depth the plot against Queen Elizabeth I was. I enjoyed the description of the past and present setting. I also really like how the book goes back and forth from past to present , linking the findings from the present to Tom. The author did an amazing job of describing exactly what things were like in the past, from not having baths to the type of homes and heating. I could easily picture the palace and the homes. I was completely entranced with the entire book and I didn’t want it to end. A sweeping saga that left my heart full. Thank you so much to Avon Books UK and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this wonderful book.

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  • Interesting

    This is my first book by this author and I really enjoyed it. I will read more of her books. It is set in two different timelines and slowly the story unfolds. I liked the fact that Tom made his way in a world while not being able to speak or hear. His journey was really interesting to read. Mathilde was in a lot of ways also someone who stood apart from the world and the people around her. Both characters were centuries apart but very similar in ways. I recommend this book.

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  • Historical Syp Thriller

    *Publication date July 8* Tom Luddon has traveled from France to England. Both deaf and mute, Tom gets by reading lips of others. When he gets a job in the palace of Queen Elizabeth I as an apothecary, he soon finds himself also working for the Queen as a spy. With his lip reading ability he’s able to uncover a plot to kill the Queen and put her cousin Mary in her place, but with danger lurking in every corner will Tom make it? At the same time Mathilde has just arrived in modern day England, also via France. She’s just found out she inherited a home from the father she thought had died. Soon she begins to be haunted by dreams of a shadow that lurks in the corner. Soon Mathilde and her sister Rachel are discovering secrets everywhere they go. Where are these mysterious dreams coming from and what are they trying to tell Mathilde? When parallel stories are done right they are fantastic, and this story was done right! It was intriguing and kept me turning the page to know more. Who doesn’t love a little Tudor palace intrigue? *I was provided an ARC by @netgalley and the publisher @avonbooks for my honest review

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  • Definitely one of the best books that I have read

    In 1584 one Tom Lutton who is mute and deaf travels to England from France in search of an job. He gets appointed as the Queen's apothecary and in time gets noticed by Her Majesty's spymaster Walsingham, all because of his ability to lip-read. He is sent on dangerous mission of uncovering an assassination attempt upon the queen. This mission changes his life, by giving him something that he had always yearned for to snatching it away within a few months. In the year of 2020, Matilda, a traveler from France receives a letter to travel to England immediately. Believing herself to be an orphan with no family in the world is surprised to find a sister and an aunt along with her father who spent maximum of his life in search of her and then left her with the ancestral family home Lutton Hall. Other than the family, she is also greeted by a spirit in the hall who haunts her day and night making her discover ancestral secrets. The author has beautifully entwined the past with the present. The storyline is set during the Babington plot which had led to the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. Evidently a lot of research has been done in the writing of this book because a lot of events co-relate with the actual events that took place. Even though an appropriate back story of the main characters was given, I couldn't connect with Matilda's story as much as I was able to do so with Tom. His raw emotions, eagerness drew me towards him. It also has a cliffhanger but the ending is not only satisfying but also soothing. I would, in all my entirety highly recommend this book

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