I return to my favorite reading genre of historical fiction – in a single timeline – with The Locksmith’s Daughter by Karen Brooks. It’s the tale of an extraordinary woman during the reign of Elizabeth I. I thank TLC Book Tours for sending me a copy at no charge for my honest review.
About The Locksmith’s Daughter:
• Paperback: 576 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (July 31, 2018)
From acclaimed author Karen Brooks comes this intriguing novel rich in historical detail and drama as it tells the unforgettable story of Queen Elizabeth’s daring, ruthless spymaster and his female protégée.
In Queen Elizabeth’s England, where no one can be trusted and secrets are currency, one woman stands without fear.
Mallory Bright is the only daughter of London’s most ingenious locksmith. She has apprenticed with her father since childhood, and there is no lock too elaborate for her to crack. After scandal destroys her reputation, Mallory has returned to her father’s home and lives almost as a recluse, ignoring the whispers and gossip of their neighbors. But Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster and a frequent client of Mallory’s father, draws her into his world of danger and deception. For the locksmith’s daughter is not only good at cracking locks, she also has a talent for codes, spycraft, and intrigue. With Mallory by Sir Francis’s side, no scheme in England or abroad is safe from discovery.
But Mallory’s loyalty wavers when she witnesses the brutal and bloody public execution of three Jesuit priests and realizes the human cost of her espionage. And later, when she discovers the identity of a Catholic spy and a conspiracy that threatens the kingdom, she is forced to choose between her country and her heart.
Once Sir Francis’s greatest asset, Mallory is fast becoming his worst threat—and there is only one way the Queen’s master spy deals with his enemies…
You can purchase The Locksmith’s Daughter at Harper Collins
About the Author:
Australian-born Karen Brooks is the author of nine novels, an academic, a newspaper columnist and social commentator, and has appeared regularly on national TV and radio. Before turning to academia, she was an army officer, and dabbled in acting. She lives in Hobart, Tasmania.
Mallory Bright, when we meet her, is a damaged young woman who has returned home after a scandal of some kind involving a man. Her father has brought her back to their home but her mother would rather she be gone. Mallory would just like to disappear. The only thing that has brightened her life at all is her friend and a boarder at their house who happens to be a playwright.
As the tension at home becomes untenable her father finds her a job with an old friend, Sir Francis Walsingham of all people. Mallory had spent her childhood learning from her father, a skilled locksmith. She is an equally skilled lock pick. Walsingham knows he can use her skills in his cadre of spies as he protects Queen Elizabeth from the harms that stalk her.
Mallory takes quite well to her spy training but all is not as it seems in her life. She has sworn to never trust another man but there is one that seems at times to be the one to open her heart again. But she doesn’t know if she can completely trust him – until harm comes to those she loves best and she soon finds out exactly whom she can trust.
I enjoyed reading The Locksmith’s Daughter. The tidbits here and there describing the beautiful and complicated locks of the time were truly fascinating. It’s always fun when the protagonist is a bright and intelligent woman even when it seems completely implausible given the times. Half the fun of reading is to imagine what might have been – particularly with fiction books.
Walsingham is known in history for his spy network in support of the queen. He had people all over feeding him information as he fought off the enemies trying to return the Catholic faith to the realm and place anyone else on the throne. I can believe he would utilize a woman in his network. Whether he would have done so as freely as he did in this book, I don’t know but to understand the whys of that you will just have to read the book.
It is a novel with a cast of interesting characters and Ms. Brooks’ research shows in the way she sets her scenes. They are fully realized and interesting – in a strikingly modern way which does cause one to pause. But it’s fiction and the book is an enjoyable read. It does have some unpleasant scenes that take place in the infamous Tower but they are not as descriptive as I have encountered in other books. I did wonder to myself if they were necessary but I’m a reader, not a writer.Overall a good read with a unique female protagonist trying to find her place in a complicated world.Click To Tweet
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