Friday, 17 June 2011
Montacute House by Lucy Jago
Pages - 278
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing in May 2011
Book kindly sent by publisher for an honest review.
News of the dead boy spread through the church as fast as a pig runs from the butcher's sack. His body was black and blistered, they whispered, like the Devil himself and danced upon it. His tongue stuck from his mouth as if someone had tried to pull it.
Historical fiction is rather a new genre to me, but give me a witch and her coven and I am more than happy to delve into the past. This book is set in 1596 and begins on May Day where the celebrations are underway in conjunction with the grand opening of Montacute House in Somerset which had recently been built. Cess, the poultry girl at Montacute House, who is repeatedly sneered at and shunned by the villagers for being an illegitimate child, finds herself in trouble when she defies Viscount Drax Morton,the Earl of Montacute's only surviving son, after he mocks her best friend William. The village are shocked by her actions.
On the same day, the body of a young boy is found and within hours William has disappeared. Cess is accused of being involved in his disappearance. She is determined to find out what actually happened to him. On her journey to determine the truth about William's disappearance, she becomes embroiled in a plot that threatens the live of the Queen. Can Cess stop the plot before everyone suffers. With the help of a local coven she will do what she can to help.
I found this book to be a fascinating read. Not only was the plot intriguing and exciting, but the book was rich with details and descriptions, allowing you to experience a sensory journey into the past. I am aware that the author carried out part of her research at the Weald and Downland Museum in West Sussex, which is a place I often love to visit. From past experiences, I know that you get to immerse yourself in the past, by actually taking part in recreated activities. Within the author's writing you can tell that she used all her senses and her extensive research to create this thrilling story.
I am aware that some may have found this too rich with detail, yet knowing how this book could be used as part of the School Curriculum as it covers elements studied in Key Stage Three History, leads me to believe that the author was right in her judgement.
Cess comes across as a strong, female character, who will defy others to reach her goal. She is loyal to the people she loves, even though her connection to them often puts her in danger. She is the only person in the village to still keep in contact with Edith, who is believed to be a witch, and acts as the go between person between the village and Edith when they are in need of her remedies.
The story builds quite dramatically at the end, as they try to stop the murderous plot. The ending turned out completely differently to how I had expected it too and the book ends with a little twist which left me wondering if a sequel may occur.
I am thrilled to see such a beautiful National Trust property used as a setting for a plot. After reading the book, I found myself searching for more information about Montacute House and desperate to arrange a visit. The author revitalizes this property and shows it within its glorious hey day.
If you love historical fiction, then I think you will enjoy this book too.