The Serpent’s Mark by S. W. Perry – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Treason sleeps for no man…

London, 1591. Nicholas Shelby, physician and reluctant spy, returns to his old haunts on London’s lawless Bankside. But, when spymaster Robert Cecil asks him to investigate the dubious practices of a mysterious doctor from Switzerland, Nicholas is soon embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not just the life of an innocent young patient, but the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth herself.

With fellow healer and mistress of the Jackdaw tavern, Bianca Merton, again at his side, Nicholas is drawn into a sinister world of zealots, charlatans and dangerous fanatics…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Serpent’s Mark is the second book in this Tudor crime series. It can be read as a stand-alone novel quite easily.

It is a novel that combines real life characters as well as fictional. As always, some names I am familiar with, some I spend time on the internet trying to find out more information. Even though there are courtiers and titled people in the novel most of it concerns ‘normal’ people. 

Anybody who is familiar with Tudor history will be aware of the turmoil created by religious beliefs at the time. How, whoever was on the throne dictated whether you were Catholic or Protestant. When this novel takes place Elizabeth I was queen and her Faith  was Protestant. Anybody who practised Catholicism faced execution so did so discreetly. The author creates a terrifying insight into how this must have been, it was here that we get to know more about Bianca, her childhood and the betrayal she felt over the way her father was abandoned by the one she thought was a friend.

As well as the religious storyline, and like the previous book, he shows developing medical beliefs. I found it fascinating, reading about how knowledge and understanding regarding science has changed over the years.

All my favourite characters from the last book featured and I have to add another to my list, Rose. I loved her sense of humour, her loyalty and the way she handled the men in her life. Especially Ned.  Nicolas was also a character I appreciated more, how he was starting to move on and acknowledge his feelings towards Bianca without feeling guilt.

Arcampora, the doctor who Nicolas has been asked to investigate, is one of the most terrifying characters I have ever met in any novel. Everything about him had me unsettled. I cringed when he appeared but was also desperate to learn what he would do next. 

A great follow up from an author who is now a favourite. 


The Angel’s Mark by S. W Perry – Blog Tour Review.

 

The Angel's Mark Cover

About the Book

LONDON, 1590. Queen Elizabeth I’s control over her kingdom is wavering. Amidst a tumultuous backdrop of Spanish plotters, Catholic heretics and foreign wars threatening the country’s fragile stability, the body of a small boy is found in the City of London, with strange marks that no one can explain.

When idealistic physician Nicholas Shelby finds another body displaying the same marks only days later, he becomes convinced that a killer is at work, preying on the weak and destitute of London.

Determined to find out who is behind these terrible murders, Nicholas is joined in his investigations by Bianca, a mysterious tavern keeper. As more bodies are discovered, the pair find themselves caught in the middle of a sinister plot. With the killer still at large, and Bianca in terrible danger, Nicholas’s choice seems impossible – to save Bianca, or save himself…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. My two favourite genres are crime and historical fiction, particularly from the Tudor period so this novel ticked all of the boxes. When I have read novels from this period  they have mostly been set in and around the courts and palaces. This novel is unique with it being set in the less affluent areas of London, in this case Bankside which is in Southwark. This is an area whose inhabitants live in poverty, some are diseased and their entertainment is the bear pits and the hostelries in the area. They live in fear of being charged with heresy or being branded for a crime. When people from their community are  found in the river, all with similar wounds they are regarded as unimportant and the ones who have the power are just happy that the victims are not from their own class.
It is fascinating to read. I felt like I was read a true reflection of what it was like to live at this time. The differences between Bankside and Nonsuch Palace were extreme. The attitudes to women and what their choices in life would be. There was no chance at all of women working in medicine, and the chances were that any woman who could help people who were suffering with illness would be regarded with scepticism. I found it very interesting reading the thoughts about how the human body worked. And how some wouldn’t accept any other explanation.
The small part of the novel that involved the torture chamber was just enough.I think if there had been more it would have less of an impact. The poignant touch made it more real, combined with the violence that preceded it. I liked Nicholas, Bianca and Ned a lot. If this is the first book in a new series I will be keen to get to know them all more. And understand more about what it was to live in these times.
It was one of those novels where I spent a lot of time looking on the internet for more information. Or in the kindle dictionary at the various foods, drink and herbal remedies. I also spent time looking at Bankside, an area I never knew existed.
A brilliant debut novel, I’m looking forward to more by this author.

The Angel's Mark Blog Tour poster