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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

The Imp of Eye by Kristin Gleeson

The Imp of  Eye (Renaissance Sojourner Series Book 1) - Kristin Gleeson, Moonyeen Blakey

The cover of Imp of Eye and the rest of the Renaissance Sojourner series has long caught my eye, so I decided that it was time to dive in. I was not disappointed. The story of the fall of Eleanor Cobham and the politics leading up to the Wars of the Roses was as richly done as promised.


Eleanor's story is not often told or widely known, though it is the focus of one of Tony Riches' novels. Therefore, it would have been easy for Gleeson to simply tell her story. The story chosen to write instead is multi-faceted and complex, giving the reader a wonderful view of 1440s London.


Alternating chapters put us in the lives of Alys, lady in waiting to Eleanor, and Barnabas, a young servant of special talents who serves Margery Jourdemayne. While this is not usually my favorite method of storytelling, it is so well done in this novel that I much enjoyed it. The characters were so diverse that it was obvious who the chapter was about within a few words, even if the heading hadn't told me. The style of writing was completely adjusted to the impoverished Barnabas or the bejeweled Eleanor, and the author makes better use of dialect than most I've read. Through these points of view, London is seen from many diverse angles.


The characters come together as Eleanor visits Jourdemayne, the Witch of Eye, for herbs to encourage pregnancy. Her ambition takes her a few steps too far, and her enemies are quick to pounce. If you do not know Eleanor's story, this is a telling of it that I can highly recommend. I look forward to the next book in the series, Sea of Travail.