“A gibbous moon hung above me tonight, swollen and bright in the sable sky, illuminating all the gravestones and memorials. But somehow it was a soft moon, not the sharply detailed orb I’d seen on other winter nights. It must be because we were near the sea. I’d been to Canterbury one other time–the same journey during which I learned of my destiny. Against my will, I was told of a prophecy. It was one I feared above all else. Yet here, tonight, I stood ready to fulfill it.”
Nancy Bilyeau, THE CHALICE
THE CHALICE, by Nancy Bilyeau, is the sequel to THE CROWN, and was published last week. I read and loved THE CROWN, so I have been eagerly awaiting this novel. Simon & Schuster kindly sent me a copy for review, which I will use in a giveaway. The spine is barely cracked because I read it in four nights.
In Reformation England, young novice Joanna Stafford is still reeling from the dissolution of her priory by her distant relation, King Henry the VIII. Used as a pawn by church and state alike, Joanna retires to the town of Dartford to begin a weaving business and try to live a quiet life, but it does not appear to be her destiny. Dragged into a new scandal and at the center of a conspiracy led by prophets and politicians, Joanna must hear the tellings of three seers to learn her ultimate role in the fate of Henry VIII’s monarchy.
Traveling through Europe and back, both taken against her will and led by her sense of duty, Joanna’s life becomes inextricably entwined in the fate of the kingdom, and only a tremendous act of courage can free her and decide the future.
Tudor England and the surrounding countries never cease to fascinate, and Bilyeau deftly weaves an original and riveting historical mystery. A varied and complex group of characters navigate an intricate plot rich in historical detail, fascinating politics, and forbidden love.
Bilyeau has a gift for animating a long-ago era without burdening the reader. Her characters are so layered that it’s hard to tell whom Joanna should trust, whom she should love, and which decisions will most fulfill her. It is this relentless tension that makes the story so engaging, and elevates it above genre suspense. Her characters will linger in the reader’s mind long after finishing the novel.
If you enjoy well-written, engaging historical suspense, I highly recommend THE CHALICE. It can be read alone or after reading THE CROWN, though I suggest diving into both in succession. For a chance to win THE CHALICE, please comment below and share the post.
For more on the novel, here is the book trailer. Enjoy!