Wednesday, 30 December 2015
Review: The Silvered Heart by Katherine Clements
1648: Civil war is devastating England. The privileged world Katherine Ferrars knows is crumbling under Cromwell's army, and as an orphaned heiress, she has no choice but to do her duty and marry for the sake of family.
But as her marriage turns into a prison, and her fortune is decimated by the war, Kate becomes increasingly desperate. So when she meets the enigmatic Ralph Chaplin, she seizes the chance he offers. Their plan is daring and brutal, but it's an escape from poverty and the shackles of convention. They both know if they're caught, there's only one way it can end...
Just when I thought I had my best reads of 2015 list all sewn up along comes this wonder! I've always been fascinated by outlaws and highwaymen and the legends that accompany them, so I knew from the off that the plot was right up my street. But I didn't expect to love it as much as I did. I literally couldn't put it down - and as I often say when a book keeps you up reading until 3am you know it's a good'un.
Katherine's writing style hooked me from the start; she's a very talented writer and has clearly researched her subject well. I'd actually not heard of 'The Wicked Lady' before, but after this I think I'll be embarking on some research of my own! Katherine Ferrers was wonderfully written - even though many of her actions were morally questionable I completely understood why she did what she did. Cast aside and downtrodden by her husband she yearns for a life of excitement, a way of bettering her circumstances without relying on men. Although Rafe does look out for her she likes the idea of their relationship in both a professional and personal sense being a partnership, a match of equals. I loved Rafe from the start - it's impossible not to be drawn into those amber eyes. I longed for Katherine and Rafe to find a way to be together, but of course this is not your standard historical romance fluff, and so things aren't quite so straightforward. Without giving too much away there's a twist that I was desperately hoping wouldn't happen, and I genuinely ended up reading a few pages through my fingers. I was absorbed completely in Katherine's story, and was sad to see it come to an end. That said, the way the book ended worked really well, especially the epilogue from Martha's point of view.
As Clements writes in her Author's Notes, Katherine Ferrers is a real historical figure, which only serves to make the story even more fascinating to me - although most of her 'The Wicked Lady' associations are but myth and legend. The historical context of this novel - the time of political unrest during and after Cromwell's regime - creates a tense backdrop, and with aristocrats and their peers displaced in society it is no wonder that some of them turned to extreme measures to ensure a future for themselves and their families.
5/5 stars: Katherine Farrers is a fascinating subject and character. Her story is the stuff of legend - prepare to be gripped. Easily one of the best books that I've read this year!
***Thanks to bookbridgr for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a review!***