Published by Bloomsbury
Source: Review copy (paperback)
Young and beautiful Violetta may be of royal blood, but her kingdom is in shambles when she arrives in London on a mysterious mission. Her journey has been long and her adventures many, but it is not until she meets the playwright William Shakespeare that she gets to tell the entire story from beginning to end. Violetta and her comic companion, Feste, have come in search of an ancient holy relic that the evil Malvolio has stolen from their kingdom. But where will their remarkable quest—and their most unusual story—lead? In classic Celia Rees style, it is an engrossing journey, full of political intrigue, danger, and romance.
This wholly original story is spun from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and includes both folly and suspense that would make the Bard proud.
The book itself is very typical of what I have come to expect from Celia Rees. It is beautifully written and weaves a full and rich tale about life in the historical period it is set in. There is a host of engaging characters and the story itself flowed wonderfully. I liked seeing Shakespearean London and loved the references to the Clink Jail (which is still a stone's throw away from the Globe)
For me however the story really didn't work. I really don't like anything to do with Shakespeare (I blame my High School English teacher) and have never read or even know the vague jist of Twelfth night which probably left me at a distinct advantage. I did like following the story of the characters and found what was happening interesting enough to keep me reading but I didn't really care what was happening to them and wasn't drawn to any of them individually for any particular reason.
So all in all while I would certainly recommend Celia Rees for someone looking for good historical fiction I would only recommend this is you enjoy / have an interest in the works of Shakespeare.