Title: The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy
Series: The Marquess House Trilogy #3
Author: Alexandra Walsh
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Published: May 25th, 2020 (Sapere Books)
Derbyshire, England, 1603
Elizabeth I is dead and the Tudor reign is over. As the men in power decide to pass the throne to the Scottish King James, one woman debates changing the course of history. Two Tudor heirs have been covered up for decades and with a foreign king threatening the stability of England it could be time to bring the truth to the fore. But there are reasons the Tudor children were put into hiding and exposing them would put not only their lives in danger, but the lives of many others as well…
Marquess House, Pembrokeshire, 2019
Dr Perdita Rivers and her sister Piper have returned to their ancestral home. But the ancient walls still contain riddles which the twins need to solve. Perdita and Piper have already discovered earth-shattering secrets which will change the course of English history forever. But they are missing one vital piece of the puzzle.
Two Tudor rings have led them to cover-ups at the Tudor court, but now they must track down a missing silver locket to slot the final parts of the mystery together. And just when it seems they could be ready to expose the centuries-old conspiracy, old enemies resurface to put their very lives at risk…
Thank you to the publisher, Sapere Books, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Now safely back at Marquess House with the two Tudor rings, all that remains for this age old conspiracy to unfold is the missing silver locket. With the discovery of a previously sealed off grotto under the mansion, several chests of old journals and documents along with a few portraits are found, which may just hold the key to discovering what was hidden away at Marquess House all those centuries ago. As the sisters begin to unravel the last piece of this mystery, the story in the past timeline now sets its focus on Arbella Stuart towards the end of Elizabeth’s reign. As a potential successor to the throne, Arbella has always played a precarious game at court, but she was also deeply involved in the elaborate plot concocted by the Ladies of Melusine to protect the Tudor twins. Marquess House holds secrets yet to be found, and the answer is within reach, yet the sisters are in more danger than ever before as their enemies seem to be drawing ever closer.
I was quite curious as to which historical figure in the Tudor era this book would be based on and was surprised when it turned out to be Arbella, whom I have only come across in passing in the many historical fiction novels of this era that I’ve read. It turns out, she’s a far more interesting character than I thought at first glance. I was very impressed at the amount of research that no doubt went into this book, clearly evident from the attention to detail throughout. It has been implied for a while that there was some sort of cover up that changed the version of events in the Tudor era, but it is only in this book that it is revealed just how massive that cover up was, and to what extent things were rewritten, quite literally, to present events and people in a more favourable light. Book two did leave a lot of questions to be answered, and I for one, was quite satisfied with how this series concluded, all loose ends tied up. The epilogue was a nice touch, and I felt, a very fitting way to end this story.
As with the second book, I felt that this book, too, spent a little too much time narrating the previous events. What would have really been useful is a recap of the events from The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy instead, since I had forgotten a lot of the details, especially those regarding what transpired at the siege of Fotheringhay Castle and it took me a while to piece things together again.
I mentioned in a recent historical fiction review that narrating a historical story with dual timelines can be quite hard to get right, since I’ve found as a reader that one timeline always ends up grabbing the majority of the attention. However, this series is one for which this style of narration really works! It was quite something to see the conspiracy in the 1600s as it was being laid and also to watch Perdita and Piper piece it together by deciphering the clues laid down centuries ago. The story in both timelines was compelling enough that I was always wondering what would happen next, no matter which timeline I was reading. Best of all, each timeline maintains the tense air perfectly throughout and the transitions between sections were very smooth and there was rarely any repeated information.
While the final reveal in the present timeline was something I had already guessed at, it was a lot of fun to see the pieces fit together at last. Arbella’s ultimate fate in this version of events was quite shocking and unexpected, but an interesting place to conclude the past timeline at. I’m usually a bit wary when novels take liberty with historical events to this extent, but Walsh has presented through this trilogy an incredibly intriguing alternate story so realistic that it might have actually happened. I enjoyed it thoroughly and am looking forward to reading any of her works in the future. I would highly recommend this series that is a fantastic combination of history and mystery for all historical fiction fans, and particularly Tudor era fans.
The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy releases on May 25th, 2020.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!