RaveThe Historical Novel SocietyThis is a charming and moving debut novel from a talented writer. Even minor characters are well-developed—often idiosyncratic but always believable. There is a good deal of humour in the earlier parts of the novel, as the children navigate the strange world of adults ... The children are, perhaps, a little precocious ... There’s a tiny historical error in one of the flashbacks ... I quite like the experimental layout of the type during some key scenes, though some readers may balk at it. There are also some lovingly acute descriptions of nature ... I’m looking forward to seeing what Quinn comes up with next. Highly recommended.
PositiveHistorical Novel SocietyScreenwriter Jenny Lecoat’s debut novel is based on an extraordinary true story of resistance and love against the odds ... As might be expected from an experienced writer (albeit in a different medium), the central characters are complex and well-developed. A tight rein is held on the plot, and the atmosphere of menace and paranoia is skilfully built up. The fact that the story the novel is based on is not well-known also means that the reader has no idea whether it will end happily or what the next twist might be. The only real criticism I have is that I would have liked a slightly more detailed historical note at the end of the book, to explain how much is actually known about the characters and events it depicts and what is conjecture.
MixedHistorical Novel SocietyBecause of the central relationship of Hetty and Lucy, the author has been compared with Sarah Waters. Unfortunately, Healey doesn’t yet have Waters’ ability to evoke the frisson of suppressed desire through tiny gestures, and occasionally the characterisation of Lucy lets her down. Hetty tells us Lucy is increasingly nervy as the situation deteriorates, but that doesn’t tally with the calm way Lucy discusses her nightmares, without any tics or speech patterns to betray her feelings. A few Americanisms seem out of keeping for the British narrators (snuck, shucked, the confusion of purposefully and purposely). And, if Lucy’s father is a baron (his rank is never made clear), she should be the Hon. Miss Lockwood, rather than Lady Lucy ... However, the climax is well done (though I found the central quarrel between the protagonists slightly underpowered), and the characterisation of Hetty is sound, though some minor characters are more one-dimensional. But Healey shows promise of producing something even more atmospheric in future.
PositiveHistorical Novel SocietyI admit this is my first Kate Mosse novel, but I can see why she is so popular. Minou in particular is an engaging heroine: warm-hearted, courageous, and liberal-minded in a period when the slightest suspicion of heresy could lead to denunciation and the Inquisitional prison in Toulouse. The secondary characters are deftly sketched in ... The plot twists and turns, with some clever use of dramatic irony to heighten the tension... I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.