Title: The Raven’s Heart
Author: Jesse Blackadder
Publisher: Fourth Estate, an Imprint of Harper Collins
Age Group & Genre: Historical Fiction for Adults
‘I am awaiting my castle and the Queen is waiting for love.’
A ship carries Mary, the young Queen of Scots, home from the French court to wrest back control of her throne. Masquerading as a male crew member, Alison Blackadder must find a way to gain the Queen’s favour so she can win back her family’s castle and lands, cruelly stolen by a murderous clan a generation ago.
Surrounded by treachery and deep suspicion, the Queen can trust nobody in the Scottish court until Alison with her flair for disguise, becomes her valued confidante and spy. But Alison’s drive to reclaim the Blackadder birthright is relentless, setting off events that threaten to bring down the monarchy. Alison discovers lies, danger and betrayal at every turn. Then, unexpectedly, she finds love ...
This sweeping and imaginative tale of political intrigue, secret passion and implacable revenge is a breathtaking epic from a remarkable Australian literary talent.
What I Liked About This Book:
I was sure I was going to love this book as soon as I read the subtitle: ‘The Story of a Quest, a Castle and Mary Queen of Scot’. And I did love it! The Raven’s Heart is a fabulous, dark, surprising historical novel, with a hefty dose of mystery, intrigue, and passion.
Jesse Blackadder says that she had finally had had enough of people asking if she was related to Rowan Atkinson, star of the BBC sitcom ‘Blackadder’. So she travelled to Scotland to find the origins of her surname and discovered the ruins of Blackadder House on the banks of the Blackadder River. Wondering about how the castle came to fall, Jesse Blackadder began to imagine this book ... and then began to write it.
It all made me very jealous of her – what a fabulous last name and what a fabulous heritage to have.
As you all may know, I’ve been fascinated by Mary, Queen of Scots and Scotland since I was a child and so any book set during that bloody and turbulent period was always going to draw me in. However, I thought this version of the famous events of the 1560s was thoughtful, original and unusual, and I really loved the book. Jesse Blackadder did a brilliant job of bringing the historical period to life, and her characters are particularly well-drawn, with all their oddities and obsessions. One of the best books I've read this year.
What I Didn’t Like About This Book:
I was a little startled when the heroine, Alison Blackadder, fell in love with and had an affair with another woman, but overall this queer angle to the story only added to its originality and surprise. Alison had been brought up dressed as a boy, and yet is fascinated by women and all their flummery, and so it seemed natural that she should be confused in her sexuality as she grows into a woman. The love scenes in the book are handled delicately and yet honestly, and the dangers of loving another woman at that time felt historically true.
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