The Winter King by Alys Clare

The Winter King: A Hawkenlye 13th Century British MysteryThe Winter King: A Hawkenlye 13th Century British Mystery by Alys Clare

All Saint’s Eve, 1211. An overweight but wealthy nobleman, desperate for an heir, dies at the celebration feast he’s thrown in his own hall. A natural death . . . or at the hands of his reluctant new wife?

Sabin de Gifford, an apothecary and healer of note, is called to examine the body, and concludes that he died of a spasm to the heart. But she is troubled, all the same, and beset by suspicions. Did the man really die of a heart attack? Or was something more sinister to blame?

There is only one person Sabin can turn to for help: fellow healer Meggie, daughter of Sir Josse d’Acquin. But what she requires of her is dangerous indeed . . .

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Winter King is one of my favourite historical books of the season. When I began reading this book, there was a little confusion for me since I came into it in the midst of a series, which I had not originally realised, but soon, the book made perfect sense without having to have read the previous.

There are so many things to love about this novel and the characters in it. First of all, the author stays true to the dialogue and speech patterns of her characters from the beginning to the end. Reading this is like getting the juicy secrets of an age gone by directly from the source.

Alys Clare is a pro at creating tense situations for her characters and making the reader do their own investigating and contemplating to figure out the mysteries at hand. She doesn’t reveal too much at once, ensuring that the excitement stays at the forefront of her reader’s mind.

I liked the way she portrayed the villains in this book as much as the way she made you trust and have faith in the heroes. Unlikely heroes are always my favourite anyway.

This book started out with some excitement and ended the same way.

If I had to choose one thing that I didn’t love as much about this novel, it would be the way that a lot of the action is recounted through the speech of the narrator and the various characters rather than being experienced first hand. This gave a somewhat blunted view of the happenings, in my opinion.

Still, I enjoyed this book very much and look forward to hearing the thoughts of others who read it. Recommended.

This review is based in a complimentary digital copy from Netgalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

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