Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Short Reviews: The King's Mistress and The Vanishing of Katharina Linden

In an attempt to fit in all the books I've read this year, seeing as I've spent the last three months as a horrible blogging slacker, I'm mashing in two shorter reviews today. I won't include synopses of the books, so click on the book cover if you want to read more about the story! Makes my life a little easier!

The King's Mistress: A NovelTitle: The King's Mistress

Author: Emma Campion

Pages: 442 (I have an ARC, so page counts in final copies may be different)

Source: Publisher for review

Rating: 7/10

Challenges: Read 'n' Review Challenge

My Two Cents:

This book has an interesting, enigmatic main character, the mistress of an English king about whom we don't really hear much. Alice Perrers, the mistress of King Edward III, begins the book young and unsure, married to a wealthy merchant. She changes considerably over the course of the book's 20-plus years of events, but still remains an interesting and relevant narrator.

My main criticism of this book is that it just seemed to try and cram too much into one novel. There's enough material here for a short series, one I would've read happily. We get more than 20 years of happenings in one book, from Alice as a young teenager all the way past Edward's death, and it just seems rushed, especially at the end. I really would have liked to see a lot more about what happened at court and to Alice and her family following Edward's death, but the last couple years of time are crammed into so short a page span it's nearly impossible.

This book is great for any fans of historical fiction, especially English royalty historical fiction.

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden: A Novel
Title: The Vanishing of Katharina Linden

Author: Helen Grant

Pages: 281 (I have an ARC, so page counts in final copies may be different)

Source: Publisher for review

Rating: 9/10

Challenges: Read 'n' Review Challenge

My Two Cents:

This novel's plucky, curious young narrator is what pilots this intriguing story over the top into a great novel. Pia, whose grandmother burst into flames at Christmas dinner at the beginning of the novel, uses her recent status as a schoolyard outsider to try and solve the mystery of why young girls suddenly disappear in her small German town. With the help of StinkStefan, a fellow outcast and another great character, she befriends a gregarious old storyteller and delves into the disappearances. When the reader thinks the mystery will be solved one way, the story takes surprising turns, leading the the final conclusion.

Grant's writing is another thing that makes this book so solid. She seamlessly weaves in words and traditions from Pia's German town, making the somewhat exotic setting seem familiar. And her choice of subject matter, child disappearance, is a timely one that is sure to capture the interest of any reader.

For fans of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and other Flavia de Luce mysteries, this is a must-read book.


Mystica said...

I really like the sound of your second book.

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