Friday 6 April 2018

Queen of a Distant Hive by Theresa Tomlinson

AMAZONUK £2.99 £7.99
AMAZON US $4.17 $9.99

(Fridgyth the Herb-Wife Book 2) 

Mystery/ Fictional Saga
600s /Anglo Saxon

‘When an unwelcome visitor arrives at Hild’s monastery, Fridgyth the herb-wife is forced to hold her tongue. The widow of the fierce Mercian king, who once brought death and destruction to the coastal community, is an uneasy sight for many. Although everyone is thankful for Northumbria’s fragile peace, painful memories are still fresh and some can think of nothing but revenge. A young tanner is found dead after a mysterious liaison - his brother is nowhere to be seen, and the boy that used to help him is terrified to speak. While the Abbess is busy trying to secure an on-going peace for the kingdom, Fridgyth starts her own investigation, though she has no idea what she is dealing with or the danger she is in…’

Theresa Tomlinson proved her adept skill at producing a well-researched and highly entertaining mystery-read with her previous novel, A Swarming of Bees, and this sequel doesn’t disappoint. Both are entirely independent of each other, so don’t worry if you haven’t read the first one. (Although I would recommend that you do!)

Set in the vicinity of Whitby Abbey in the late seventh century under the jurisdiction of the Abbess Hild, the factual events and people of the period superbly compliment the imagined narrative and the supporting cast of characters: cooks, craftsmen and the ordinary men, women and children who feature alongside the nuns and monks, and their important and impressive royal or clerical visitors. We see, too, the way the people of the past thought, behaved and believed – God and Jesus are the hub of  the lives within the Abbey, but this period was the cusp of the rise of Christianity, so pagan faiths and superstitions are still very much to the fore, which adds superbly to the credability of the story.

Fridgyth is a herbalist for both the town and the monastery, and with her skill and knowledge of matters medical, her quick eye for detail and understanding of human nature, she becomes the investigator destined to discover the culprit of deeds most foul. It is not just the solving of the mystery that I found entertaining and absorbing, however, but the attention to period detail. Ms Tomlinson brought the seventh century to life with apparent ease and slipped the little facts in so superbly that there was no hint of ‘showing what I know’ as some authors, alas, tend to do.

Highly recommended. I do hope there will be more in this superb series.

© Helen Hollick

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  1. I remember reading book 1 and enjoying it. I'm adding this to my TBR list.

  2. I went to buy it and discovered I already have it. Lol, it must be lurking on my Kindle somewhere. Anyway, now, I can go and enjoy it.

  3. I've already added this book to my TBR list. Historical Mystery is my favourite genre and this one sounds excellent.


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