House Of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

House of Shadows

London, 1662:

There was something the Winter Queen needed to tell him. She fought for the strength to speak.
‘The crystal mirror is a danger. It must be destroyed – ‘
He replied instantly. ‘It will’.

Ashdown, Oxfordshire, present day: Ben Ansell is researching his family tree when he disappears. As his sister Holly begins a desperate search, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to an ornate antique mirror and to the diary of Lavinia, a 19th century courtesan who was living at Ashdown House when it burned to the ground over 200 years ago.

Intrigued, and determined to find out more about the tragedy at Ashdown, Holly’s only hope is that uncovering the truth about the past will lead her to Ben.

For fans of Barbara Erskine and Kate Morton comes an unforgettable novel about three women and the power one lie can have over history

Beginning in 1596, at the Palace of Holyrood House in Scotland, this wonderful historical fiction book, King James is looking at a black velvet box, sent from Queen Elizabeth as a gift at the christening of his daughter, named for Elizabeth even though she had brought about the death of his own mother, Mary Queen of Scots.

The box contains the Sistrin Pearl and a diamond encrusted hand mirror. The pearl, born of water, found in the oyster beds of the River Tay centuries before, a part of the collection of King Alexander I. The mirror, forged in fire by the glass blowers of Murano, encrusted with diamonds of the finest quality and given as a gift to King James’ mother, Mary Queen of Scots on her marriage. It was said to have powers of prophecy and destruction through fire and flood.

Following Elizabeth after she marries Frederick, an English princess marrying a German Prince, joining lands and armies. Frederick is easily seduced by the powers of the mirror and pearl. Away fighting wars to regain his lands, Elizabeth bears children and waits.

She is waiting more for her husband’s man, William Craven, than for her husband. As we easily go back and forth in the book to their story in the 1600’s to present day at Ashdown House, built by Craven for Elizabeth. It is also a story told through the eyes of the woman who did live in the house, Lavinia, a courtesan with a connection to both the past and the present.

I can imagine quite a few different readers for this book. The history buffs of course. The love stories, those interested in the Knights of the Rosy Cross.

I enjoyed this story very much.  It came out in 2015 and is now being released by Harlequin Books S.A. tomorrow.



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