Today I’ve reviewed the second book in this series. The first book, The Angel’s Mark I reviewed last year, here, and loved it so much I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book.
Blurb: London, 1591. Nicholas Shelby, physician and reluctant spy, returns to his old haunts on London’s lawless Bankside. But, when the queen’s spymaster Robert Cecil asks him to investigate the dubious practices of a mysterious doctor from Switzerland, Nicholas is soon embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not just the life of an innocent young patient, but the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth herself.
With fellow healer and mistress of the Jackdaw tavern, Bianca Merton, again at his side, Nicholas is drawn into a dangerous world of zealots, charlatans and fanatics. As their own lives become increasingly at risk, they find themselves confronting the greatest treason of all: the spectre of a bloody war between the faiths…
My Review: As with the previous book in this series, this one draws you in with fantastic descriptions of London in the 16th century. The pages are alive with detail and I felt completely immersed in the time period, experiencing the same anxieties and concerns of the characters themselves. In this book, Nicholas travels north so we get to experience the country outside London and see how the religious and political issues that were such a big part of that time period, impacted people outwith the capital.
There is a lot of mention of religion in this book and the previous one, and a lot of political posturing and deviousness in both, but that fits perfectly with that time period. From what I know from books and TV, religion and concerns about the Queen’s security and safety were constant. Add to that the change of religion which happened when she ascended the throne and you have a potent mix which people took advantage of.
So, on top of that heady combination, in this book we have a mysterious doctor with a hidden agenda, Nicholas’s own problems regarding his medical career and potential trouble for Bianca when one of her kin arrives in London by boat. There’s a lot going on this story but don’t let that put you off, it’s skilfully written and weaves a tale that keeps you hooked till the last page.
I loved the character development of Nicholas and Bianca in this book but it’s Nicholas who has the most development and it is a joy to watch, given what happened to him in the first book. I have seen, from the authors twitter, that there is a third book out next year and I cannot wait to read it. This has been added to my list of favourite series, you know the ones I mean, those that you wait for with huge anticipation and read when you have time free to be able to relish and savour it. Yep, this series is on that list, which is, for me, where it deserves to be.