Catherine Clover ~ The Queen of Heaven
The White Tower. A terrible vision. Her home invaded and precious documents stolen.
Lady Isabelle must flee her pursuers, posing as a young male scholar in the New College of St Mary in Oxford. But when she learns she is with child it won’t be long until she is discovered amongst their ranks. Can she bring herself to love an infant conceived in evil? And will she ever be reunited with her beloved Richard, or will Sir Henry Lormont’s dagger find him first?
I absolutely love the 15th and 16th century and devour fiction and non-fiction set in the late Middle Ages and Early Modern periods. During this time England – and indeed the world – changed dramatically. There were crusades, religious uprisings, inquisitions, wars, multiple monarchs and some excellent literature.
Unfortunately The Queen of Heaven does not fall into the latter category.
Although the historical accuracy is very good, the writing really lets this book down. At times the story is over written, with word choices extremely odd; in other places the author repeats herself, explaining that a pointer was used to point and that, after a vision, a character’s vision was blurry… with so many synonyms in the English language, this repetition is unnecessary. I would also question characters’ reactions to certain events: when Isabelle tells her sister she is responsible for her family’s death, she responds ‘wearily’…
The story itself isn’t bad, in fact it’s mildly interesting. And once Margaret Beaufort arrives, it feels more familiar and believable. Isabelle and Margaret have a sweet relationship that feels quite genuine, especially when they go horse riding, but most of the characters feel very two-dimensional.
However, it is very difficult to read because of the writing style and any potential enjoyment is lost. At times I actually laughed out loud after reading a sentence, because the wording was so ridiculous. Perhaps this was the author’s intent, as Isabelle – the narrator – is an extremely naïve character, who reveals her ‘secret’ identity to everyone she meets, but I doubt it. There is also a lack of atmosphere; in historical fiction it is usual to immerse the reader in the period, but in The Queen of Heaven this was lacking.
Some readers may be able to overlook the writing and enjoy the story, but sadly I was extremely disappointed.
I was provided with a copy of the book by Random Things Tours. All opinions my own.