Wednesday, June 9, 2021

ARC Review: Castle Shade by Laurie R. King

Castle Shade

Laurie R. King
Series: Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (Book 17)
Publication: Bantam (June 8, 2021)

Description: A queen, a castle, a dark and ageless threat—all await Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes in this chilling new adventure.

The queen is Marie of Roumania: the doubly royal granddaughter of Victoria, Empress of the British Empire, and Alexander II, Tsar of Russia. A famous beauty who was married at seventeen into Roumania’s young dynasty, Marie had beguiled the Paris Peace Conference into returning her adopted country’s long-lost provinces, singlehandedly transforming Roumania from a backwater into a force.

The castle is Bran: a tall, quirky, ancient structure perched on high rocks overlooking the border between Roumania and its newly regained territory of Transylvania. The castle was a gift to Queen Marie, a thank-you from her people, and she loves it as she loves her own children.

The threat is . . . well, that is less clear. Shadowy figures, vague whispers, the fears of girls, dangers that may be only accidents. But this is a land of long memory and hidden corners, a land that had known Vlad the Impaler, a land from whose churchyards the shades creep.

When Queen Marie calls, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are as dubious as they are reluctant. But a young girl is involved, and a beautiful queen. Surely it won’t take long to shine light on this unlikely case of what would seem to be strigoi.

Or, as they are known in the West . . . vampires.

My Thoughts: Mary and Sherlock's next adventure takes them to Roumania where Marie, Queen of Roumania, has a problem. Mary has caught quite a head cold which she blames on the children of her hosts in Monaco and isn't tracking well as Holmes bundles her onto a train. When she recovers somewhat, she takes charge of their travel plans and gets them to the country sooner.

When they arrive, they learn that someone is trying to ruin Marie's reputation with the people near her castle in Bran. Some of the things they have tried is trying to make it look like Marie is using witchcraft and harassing some of the young women in town with rumors of vampires. Things escalate until Mary is attacked and abducted, drugged and left in a small underground room which was described in great detail along with Mary's fear of small, enclosed spaces and fears of being buried alive. 

When one of castle servants who bears a strong resemblance to Marie's daughter Ileana is also abducted, Holmes and Russell need to discover the villain and save the girl which entails a wild motorcycle ride through the countryside. 

I loved the historical detail about the time and place. I knew nothing about Marie of Roumania before reading this book and was intrigued to learn about her. The descriptions of the people and the castle were both vivid and detailed. They were also intriguing. I liked that both Holmes and Russell had chapters from their viewpoint. It was interesting to see Holmes's viewpoint of the state of his marriage to Mary Russell. 

This is a wonderful historical mystery series and this seventeenth episode was a great entry into the series. 

Favorite Quote:
Roumania was as close as Europe got to wilderness: neither West nor East, not quite feudal yet a fair distance from a functioning democracy, a land beyond the reaches of the Cook's guides. "And granted, it's a place where the maps have 'Here be dragons,' but I can't see why we needed quite such a roundabout route.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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