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.
In 1606 a tragedy strikes Bristol in the form of a devastating, towering, wave which wrecks the Bristol Channel. Is this God’s vengeance or just an accident? King James I is concerned at what people may believe is the truth, his close advisor Charles FitzAlan decides to give Daniel Pursglove a chance to avoid life in prison after his involvement in the Gunpowder plot the year before. Will Daniel’s investigation in Bristol result in answers that will please the King and gain his freedom or will find out there’s more at stake than he thought?
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.