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Carpe Librum

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Historical Novel Society

Review: Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell

Shadow on the Crown - Patricia Bracewell

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

The beautifully described settings transport the reader to Saxon England. The complex and skillfully developed characters become friends . . . or enemies. Scenes of drama, love, and suspense are interspersed with quotes from historical texts, showing how and where the author embellished Emma of Normandy's story. Since her story takes place at the beginning of the 11th century, there is much left to the imagination. Bracewell fills in these gaps marvelously. I enjoyed the creative way that fictional events led up or added to known historical events.

It took me a few chapters to picture the characters as Bracewell was writing them rather than as I remembered them in Helen Hollick's A Hollow Crown (aka The Forever Queen), but I ended up liking this version better. Emma is strong, yet understands that her duty is to be a devoted wife and have children. She is loving, but abhors her husband. She is kind, and will defend those she loves to her last breath. She was written as a dynamic character that I cheered for, cried with, and can't wait to read more about.

I listened to this as an audiobook and started going through withdrawal when the weekend came along. All of a sudden my habit of listening to my current audiobook while driving or doing homework was nowhere near enough. I had to creep off to a quiet corner of the house to listen to a few minutes like an addict sneaking into their stash. Shadow on the Crown was the most riveting novel about Saxon England that I have read, and I recommend it to anyone interested in this time period.