Wow, up to no. 6 already…
If you’ve been following my blog for a little while you’ve probably noticed I’m not exactly a huge reader of the bestselling historical fiction genre, a la Phillipa Gregory, Ken Follett, Diana Gabaldon, Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt/Philippa Carr, though I will occasionally dabble in some Gregory when I’m looking for a quick easy read.
But I do actually like historical fiction, I just prefer it to be extremely well written and authentic (i.e. The Crimson Petal and the White, Year of Wonders, anything Victorian by Sarah Waters) as well as hopefully (but not just) rip-roaring.
On that note let me introduce you to Shores of Darkness by Diana Norman. Now this is not an easy book to get hold of, it’s out of print and you’ll only find it secondhand and even then not very often. But if you do find a copy I have to recommend snapping it up and enjoying some top rate rollicking historical fiction. Norman is probably better known for her American Revolution series that started with Catch of Consequence, and is now writing historical mystery under the name Ariana Franklin.
Shores of Darkness is, in part, a female pirate story that well makes up for the irritating Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Carribbean. Norman manages to cover piracy, slavery, royal succession issues, voodoo, Daniel Defoe, the French Royal Court, war in Flanders and the legend of female pirates Mary Read and Anne Bonny as well as a murder mystery slash love story. Phew.
What sets this book apart for me is the total lack of moments where you think “God, this is really tosh”. Thoroughly absorbing and vastly entertaining. If you can find a copy, lucky you (you can’t have mine).
Publisher’s description: Martin Millet came home from the war in Flanders one summer day in 1706 to find his Aunt Effie murdered, his friend Daniel Defoe embroiled in espionage, and himself responsible for Bratchet, his aunt’s female servant, whose life is also threatened.
Instead of settling on a small estate, as he had hoped, Martin must embark on a seven-year odyssey which will lead him, Bratchet and a mysterious Highlander from London’s stews back to the battlefields of Flanders, the court of the Sun King, the perils of piracy on the high seas and the horrors of Jamaica’s sugar plantations. Yet little do they but know it, the answer to Effie’s death, Bratchet’s safety and Defoe’s commission lies closer to home – in the apartments of Queen Anne, dying with no Protestant heir in view…