Monday, September 3, 2012

The Queen’s Secret By Victoria Lamb

The Queen’s Secret
By Victoria Lamb

The Queen’s Secret by Victoria Lamb gives us an intriguing insight into the Elizabethan court during the spectacular and lavish visit to Kenilworth Castle; home of the Earl of Leicester in July 1575. This was a celebration which almost bankrupted the young Earl who was determined to impress and woo the Virgin Queen. The heroine of the novel is a young black singer and court entertainer; Lucy Morgan. An orphan, Lucy has grown up as a ward of one the great spies of the age; Master Goodluck and with her enchanting voice and striking looks it’s not long before she attracts the attention of others including the Earl of Leicester, and the Queen’s own spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham as well the Queen herself. As Lucy becomes aware of a dangerous plot against the Queen and pressed for information on all sides she finds deception and betrayal at every turn. As the danger grows not just for the Queen but for Lucy herself, she wonders who she can trust when every courtier seems to be looking after number one. Victoria has brought to life a perennially popular period in History; a time of intrigue and espionage and peopled her novel with a fascinating cast of characters some real some imagined, all of whom seem to leap from the page. The research and effort which have gone into recreating the period detail are apparent on every page as I could feel the sweltering July heat and smell the unwashed bodies of the thousands who made up the crowded royal court. Victoria has already released her first Young Adult novel Witchstruck which will be the first in a series and having loved that book I was delighted to get my hands on this one and it has certainly not disappointed. Romantic, political and full of danger The Queen’s Secret is a fantastic page turner. I hold true to my previous claim that Victoria Lamb has surpassed the reigning Queen of Tudor Fiction; Philippa Gregory as her plots are tighter and her storytelling more powerful. I look forward to more tales of thrilling espionage and romance with Lucy Morgan and more spells and secrets with Meg Lytton courtesy of Victoria Lamb.

The Girl on the Stairs By Louise Welsh

The Girl on the Stairs
By Louise Welsh


Louise Welsh’s new novel is a dark and chilling tale of a young mum to be and how easily suspicion and paranoia can breed. Jane has arrived in Berlin; her partner Petra’s home town having given up her old life in England to have a child while Petra takes up a new job in finance. Without the distraction of her old job running a bookshop and feeling cut off because of her poor German, Jane spends a lot of time alone while Petra works. She is counting down the weeks until their baby is born and in the meantime she explores the neighbourhood and is fascinated by the nearby churchyard and the empty building that backs onto her apartment block. Jane is also intrigued by a young girl she sees on the stairs who turns out to be a neighbour. Dressed in a red coat and heels Anna’s makeup and demeanour belie her thirteen years and Jane fears for the loss of the young girl’s innocence and when she hears shouting through the walls and arguments between father and daughter she worries for Anna’s safety. Petra dismisses her suspicions but Jane’s sense of fear continues to grow and she feels it is connected to the lonely hinterhaus which overshadows them. This is a fantastic dark, edgy and edge of the seat thriller which will not disappoint fans of Louise Welsh but will also be perfect for fans of Rosamund Lupton and Julia Crouch. Be prepared to loose sleep.