Speculative Fiction Reviews, Interviews, Art and Whatever Else!
Narrative: Third Person, Omniscient, Subjective
I must admit, I am a total sucker for historical mysteries, especially ones that are set in the poorer classes of Britain before the 20th century. There is always an added sense of character to those who have to struggle to survive, an extra sense of curiosity and cunning. Especially when the protagonist, Bianca, is an independent female, making her own way with her cleverness and determination. I am also a total sucker for historical stories of healers, herbalists and chemists, so The Alchemist's Daughter scores pretty high on my 'pleasure reading' list!
This is a really fun murder mystery with a dash of added romance (with the funniest sex scene I think I've ever read!) and a teeny sprinkling of the supernatural. I wouldn't say it's the most factually in-depth Historical Fiction set during the Tudor era, but then it didn't really need to be as it is essentially character driven. It does use it's time in place well to illuminate the social status of the characters, the struggles they'd need to endure to keep from starving, and how those struggles essentially mold them into who they are.
I did like that the author admitted that some of the lingo and expressions were her imaginings of the time period, used to try and bolster the fictional aspect. I think it shows her respect for the history, and her own integrity. I give kudos for that!
The majority characters are quite humorously portrayed, some almost caricatures, but essentially it's the kind hearted rogues vs. the very disagreeable nobles and their lackies, with a healthy dose of scorn for the overly zealous, yet incompetent authorities.
Sometimes the side characters stole the show right out from Bianca, with their larger than life personalities. It was great to be able to laugh out loud, when the surrounds and circumstance are actually pretty dire. Plus the contrasts between Bianca's very serious demeanour and say, Meddybumps' rather comical one show that Lawrence can contrive a cast of very diverse characters, even in a fairly small volume.
The mystery aspect held really well. Although parts were obvious quite early, the details of why and how were all held tight, and metered out nicely right up to the very end. A couple of twists and turns kept it tight and interesting.
So, why only 3.5? I am a bit of a hard case when it comes to keeping control of characters in omni when there are multiple subjective POV's in the one scene.
It's just really uncomfortable to be whiplashed from one character to the next in quick succession, which does happen in certain sections of the book. It doesn't afflict the whole book, there just needs to be some thought police during the sections when the action picks up. Nearing the end there is some pretty rapid head jumping, which I find a bit of a cardinal sin.
Other than that, this is a fast paced and enjoyable read, ranging from serious issues to comic relief all in one great little mystery! Perfect for rainy Autumn afternoons and copious amounts of hot cinnamon tea!
I will be picking up more Bianca Goddard books in the future!
Harcopy Worthy? I'd like to read the next in the series just to check, but I think so!