The Lady of the Ravens- Joanne Hickson

There is a plethora of books to choose from about the Tudor era at the moment, detailing the lives of those involved in the court of Henry VIII, so it was refreshing to stumble upon this novel which provides a different perspective; this time centred during the reign of King Henry VII.

“When Joan Vaux is sent to live in the shadow of the Tower of London, she must learn to navigate the treacherous waters of this new England under the Tudors. Like the ravens, Joan must use her eyes and her senses, if Henry and his new dynasty are to prosper and thrive.”

The story of the beginning of the Tudor period is told through the eyes of Giovanna, known as Joan, who is lady-in-waiting to Henry’s wife Elizabeth. Through her story, the reader is allowed glimpses into court life, whilst seeing her own relationships with her family develop.

Joan is an extremely likeable character and highly thought of by both Elizabeth and King Henry. Desperate for the new sovereign to prosper, Joan puts great faith in the adage that while the ravens protect the Tower of London, the monarchy will be safe.

The ravens provide a consistent thread throughout the novel; a constant reminder of the links between each of the principal characters while the relationship between Joan and Sim, a young boy who she takes into her care who shares her love of the birds, is a heartwarming element of the story.

Equally compelling is the developing bond between Joan and Richard Guildford, a man whom she at first holds in contempt, but who later becomes her husband due to the necessities of court expectations.

Hickson writes with an accessible style but one which is clearly well researched and based on historical fact. A fascinating read!

The King’s Sisters (The Cross and the Crown, #3) – Sarah Kennedy

This is described as a standalone book although there are two previous novels in the series and reading these in advance may help the reader get to grips more quickly with the characters as it can be difficult to gauge who is who at the start.

Many of the characters share the same name and this too adds to the confusion at the start of the book. Conversations between characters were not always clear and it became something of a chore to read the first third of the story as a result.

As a fan of Tudor history, this book piqued my interest and the author has clearly done her research to ensure an historically accurate portrayal of those times. The threat posed by Henry VIII to anyone who fell foul of his ideas to reform Tudor Britain and the treachery among those charged with serving him are perfectly captured, although it is not until the second half of the book that anything really happens in terms of the plot.

Luckily, this part of the book picks up in both pace and action and it actually took me only a couple of days to read in contrast to the several weeks spent painstakingly trawling through the earlier section.

This had the potential to be an enthralling historical novel but sadly falls short.