Last but not least...
aka Ana from Miss Picky's Column
Greetings to all Royal Readers!
This is my first post as an official Royal Reviewer and probably the hardest one, I truly hate introductions. But first things first, my name is Ana, I'm from Portugal and you can usually find me at Miss Picky's Column, that is if I'm not lying on the couch with a book, glued to the latest TV series or movie or even disastrously trying out new recipes in my kitchen. That is me in a nutshell!
I grew up in a house full of books, my mother is a mystery lover while my father tends to science fiction, although you could always find other genres in the mix. Probably due to this small melting pot I've never had a favourite genre, I read anything I can get my hands on, it usually depends on my mood. My reading tastes and habits have changed a lot over the years, and although the size of my TBR list never seems to get smaller (not going to tell you the exact number! :-P), there are times when I clean out my bookshelves and end up with a pile of books that I have no idea why I got in the first place. Ever had than happen?
Here at Royal Reviews I'll be known as Diabolical Dauphine, which fits nicely with my tendency for dark and troubled heroes, psychotic bad guys, gory details and an aversion to sugary stories and mushy endings without any kind of reasonable storyline.
I'm sure I'll have a wonderful time here and I can't wait for this adventure to start! Thanks ladies for having me on board! :-)
Review of Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Genre: Historical Mystery
A boy is found murdered on the bottom of the river, those who saw the body say he was crucified, there’s a witness who swears she saw him hanging from a cross at a prominent Jew’s house, while a wedding was taking place. It’s the Easter season and rumour has it that Jews sacrifice Christian children in their celebration rituals, so of course the village people turn against the Jews, and after murdering the couple at whose house the body was seen, they force the rest of them to take shelter at Cambridge’s castle.
A year has passed and three other children go missing, despite the fact that the Jews are still locked up in the castle, the village people still believe they’re the guilty party, some even say they have grown wings and fly out over the castle walls to abduct the children. Henry II is not at all pleased over these events, not because he has any personal friends among the Jews but because most of his taxes come from them, and now that they’re locked up, there’s no incoming taxes and he has to feed them all, on top of that. So he decides to hire someone to investigate the murders and if possible, help clear the name of the Jews.
Adelia Aguilar is a mistress of the art of death, something of a coroner in the 12th century, she’s a woman doctor, something that is common in Salerno where she comes from but is totally unheard of in Cambridge, if her true identity was found she’d probably be labelled as a witch. Not wanting to draw too much attention to themselves while investigating the crimes, Adelia and her companions, Simon Menahem and Mansur, try to pass as doctor Mansur and his assistants, as a man doctor wasn’t uncommon in those days, if though rare.
They arrive in town among a group of pilgrims that come from a visit to St. Thomas Beckett, we find out later that these people are the main suspects for the crimes, one of them is our gruesome serial killer. The only problem is to find out which one of them has a heart carved in ice!
This book grabs you from the start, the plot is extremely well weaved, the historical background if not entirely accurate is still believable and interesting and the characters are one of the best I’ve seen lately, especially Adelia with her strong character, her wry humour and clever repartees, she made me laugh out loud in certain scenes, I still remember the conversation between her and prior Geoffrey before a very “delicate” operation. The author manages to write fluidly, there was never a dull moment in the story, no matter what she was describing. And the ending was perfect, it’s a little sadistic but the “mosquito” deserved it, and Adelia got her happy ending, maybe not a conventional one but you wouldn’t expect anything else from a woman like her.
Be warned that there are a couple of very graphical scenes, so if you’re faint of heart, this is probably not the book for you. But everyone else that enjoys a good mystery, be sure to pick this one up, and it’s only the start of a series. Oh joy! ;-)