Welcome to my stop on The Drowned City blog tour! Huge thanks to Random Things Tours for giving me the opportunity to take part in this! I was provided a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
Publication Date: 01/04/2021
Length: 448 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction | Mystery
1606. A year to the day that men were executed for conspiring to blow up Parliament, a towering wave devastates the Bristol Channel. Some proclaim God’s vengeance. Others seek to take advantage.GoodReads
In London, Daniel Pursglove lies in prison waiting to die. But Charles FitzAlan, close adviser to King James I, has a job in mind that will free a man of Daniel’s skill from the horrors of Newgate. If he succeeds.
For Bristol is a hotbed of Catholic spies, and where better for the lone conspirator who evaded arrest, one Spero Pettingar, to gather allies than in the chaos of a drowned city? Daniel journeys there to investigate FitzAlan’s lead, but soon finds himself at the heart of a dark Jesuit conspiracy – and in pursuit of a killer.
I loved the way that Maitland described 17th Century London and Bristol. I felt that I was transported into the thick of the action alongside Daniel, rather than just observing it with the way Maitland’s writing just encompasses you. It’s because of this and the brilliant characters that draw you into the plot and the mystery surrounding the flood and the murders, however at the same time I could have happily read a novel about these characters just living in this time as it was just as interesting to me.
We have Daniel, our protagonist, who is on a secret mission for King James I in order to be pardoned for his involvement in the Gunpowder Plot. I really enjoyed how he was simultaneously quick thinking to avoid suspicion but he wasn’t quick enough in some cases which added a layer of jeopardy to his position in Bristol. I also enjoyed his sense of humour with the occasional dark comment or quip which caused a subtle shift in the atmosphere of the scene just enough, but not too much that it seemed forced or out of character.
I especially liked the way Daniel would interact with the different people he met, in particular I enjoyed his unlikely friendship with Myles, a young orphan running all kinds of errands to make sure he doesn’t starve. Although Daniel claims to just be using Myles to collect information from him, you can still see he cares about the boy and wants to make sure he’s okay. Each character is well developed and complex, with most of them having two sides to them which isn’t always obvious at first.
Whilst the novel is primarily from Daniel’s perspective as he tries to unravel the mysteries in Bristol, we do get the occasional chapter back in London with FitzAlan or Cecil. This was a great way to build tension by shifting the reader’s attention every now and then away from Daniel’s investigation. Although I don’t know much about King James I, I did enjoy the way Maitland characterised him and those around him. She made it very clear of the differences between those in London and those in Bristol, how it wasn’t just their money and status that made them different but their petulance and arrogance too.
Overall, Maitland cleverly weaves history and mystery together in a way that is captivating and a novel you will struggle to put down. I am thrilled that this is the first of a new series as this means that I’ll get to spend more time with Daniel in the dark and gritty corners of 17th Century England.