Wednesday, October 18, 2017

ARC Review: House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

House of Shadows
Author: Nicola Cornick
Publication: Graydon House (October 17, 2017)

Description: The wooded hills of Oxfordshire conceal the remains of the aptly named Ashdown House—a wasted pile of cinders and regret. Once home to the daughter of a king, Ashdown and its secrets will unite three women across four centuries in a tangle of intrigue, deceit and destiny… 

In the winter of 1662, Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen, is on her deathbed. She entrusts an ancient pearl, rumored to have magic power, to her faithful cavalier William Craven for safekeeping. In his grief, William orders the construction of Ashdown Estate in her memory and places the pearl at its center.

One hundred and fifty years later, notorious courtesan Lavinia Flyte hears the maids at Ashdown House whisper of a hidden treasure, and bears witness as her protector Lord Evershot—desperate to find it—burns the building to the ground.

Now, a battered mirror and the diary of a Regency courtesan are the only clues Holly Ansell has to finding her brother, who has gone missing researching the mystery of Elizabeth Stuart and her alleged affair with Lord Craven. As she retraces his footsteps, Holly's quest will soon reveal the truth about Lavinia and compel her to confront the stunning revelation about the legacy of the Winter Queen.

My Thoughts: This book tells the story of three women from different time periods centered around a mirror and a pearl that may have magical properties. Their lives and loves are all connected in a story that spans almost 400 years.

Elizabeth of Bohemia was given the mirror and pearl as Christening gifts by Elizabeth I of England in 1596. She is married to Frederick of Bohemia. Elizabeth is in The Hague, a court in exile, since Frederick has lost his throne. They attempt to use the mirror and pearl to regain it. Elizabeth's romance is with William Craven, a commoner and soldier, who is her devoted courtier.

The second story is a modern day one. Holly Ansell is called to Ashdown Mill by her 6-year-old niece who tells her that her father, Holly's brother Ben, is missing. When she arrives Ben is still gone and she finds herself in a mystery. Apparently Ben was researching the mirror and the pearl. An art dealer gives her the mirror and she discovers a diary written in 1801.

The diary is written by Lavinia Flyte who is a courtesan living at Ashdown with William Craven's descendant who is searching for the pearl. (Elizabeth had entrusted it to William when she died.) Her lover hires a surveyor to help map the land and hopefully find out where the Earl of Craven hid the pearl. Unknown to him, Robert Verity, is a descendant of William Craven's lover who got pregnant by Craven but went back home to her husband to have the child taking Elizabeth's mirror with her. Lavinia falls in love with Robert.

The three stories are all interwoven telling about the history of the magical objects and the women whose lives were entwined in the story. I enjoyed the story, the characters, and the historical detail.

Favorite Quote:
If you loved you got hurt and the more you loved the more power it had to destroy her.

For her it was that simple.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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