5 Feb 2020

Review - A Shadowed Fate by Marty Ambrose

  Title: A Shadowed Fate (Claire Clairmont #2)

  Author: Marty Ambrose

  Publication Date: March 03, 2020


1873, Florence. Claire Clairmont, the last survivor of the 'haunted summer of 1816' Byron/Shelley circle, is reeling from the series of events triggered by the arrival of Michael Rosetti two weeks before, which culminated in a brutal murder and a shocking revelation from her old friend, Edward Trelawny.

Stunned by her betrayal at the hands of those closest to her, Claire determines to travel to the convent at Bagnacavallo near Ravenna to learn the true fate of Allegra, her daughter by Lord Byron. But the valuable Cades sketch given to her by Rosetti is stolen, and Claire soon finds herself shadowed at every turn and in increasing danger as she embarks on her quest. Is the theft linked to Allegra, and can Claire uncover what really happened in Ravenna so many years ago?

I received a free ebook copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:

I've been waiting for A Shadowed Fate for a long time and here it is at last. Marty Ambrose managed to pull me in with her first book in her Claire series so much, that in the past 1.5 years I've been checking and rechecking if there were any news about the second instalment. It hits the shelves shortly, and I received a copy on NetGalley, so here is what I think.

I flew through this novel as well as the first one. They are quite short  which is a shame. In ASF Claire is going on a road trip with her friend Trelawny and her small family in order to find out what happened to her daughter, Allegra, when she lived in the convent of Bagnacavallo. While on the road a dangerous stranger seems to be on their heels, and with Byron and Shelley's valuable letters in her pocket Claire has to look over her shoulder continuously if she wants to keep her loved ones safe.

Like in Claire's Last Secret, here we got glimpses into the past too, this time of Byron's years in Ravenna, when he supported the Carbonari's revolution for a united Italy. Through journal entries the reader gets caught up in a shoot-out at the fringe of a forest, where Byron is the target, and an equally heated situation on the streets of Ravenna, where once again, bullets fly low. It was an interesting addition to the book, because I've never really read much of this part of Byron's life before.

I also enjoyed the child Allegra's journal entries and was glad the author gave her a voice. I'm looking forward to read more of her story later.

Claire and Trelawny's relationship develops quite a lot in this novel and we hear more of the one night they spent together in the past. We are also given reasons why it never really worked out between the two and we are left with a big question mark regarding their future relationship. Another reason for me to want to read the third book.

Diving into Marty Ambrose's prose was easy, as if I had just finished the first book and picked up the second right after. She's got a very clear style and she makes you care and root for her characters. It still surprises me, but with some magic she makes me like Claire, while I've never really cared  much for her before.

Sign me up for the last book in the trilogy, I'm still in! 

Read my review of Claire's Last Secret here.

4 Feb 2020

Review - The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

 Title: The Secret Garden

 Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett


  Mary Lennox is sent from an India as an orphan to live at
 Misselthwaite Manor. She arrives as a sour-faced,
 sickly and ill-tempered little madam but becomes friends with
 local lad Dickon and her poorly cousin Colin. In their
 restoration of a secret garden all their lives are changed for the better.

My Thoughts:

When, once finished,  you close a book with the thought: "I'll definitely read this to my children one day", that's a clear testament to the book's merits.

The Secret Garden is pure magic, an ultimate feel-good retreat, a novel that shows the healing power of nature and the world around us. Though generally labelled as a children's book, it is not only for children; it warmed my poor adult heart in ways that are impossible to describe.

"Mother says as th' two worst things as can happen to a child is never to have his own way – or always to have it."

When Mary Lennox arrives to Misselthwaite Manor, she's a haughty, self-centered little girl. While before she was always surrounded with people who served her, at the manor she's left to her own devices to entertain herself throughout the day. Her uncle Craven is hardly ever at home, and Martha the maid has chores around the house therefore she cannot be with her all the time. 

When she ventures outside to the gardens she feels a change in herself that she cannot really grasp, and when Ben the gardener and Martha mention a garden that has been locked up for 10 years, she cannot help but dream about finding the key.

The Secret Garden has a history that has something to do with the soft crying of a child she hears on the corridors of the manor sometimes, and of course Mary has to go and investigate. 

Strong friendships are born in this book that bridge gaps in between classes. Martha's little brother Dickon is like a little Mowgli of the Yorkshire moors, he charms Mary very quickly with his gentle nature and ability to speak with the animals.  

"Where you tend a rose, my lad,
A thistle cannot grow."

Three children find a haven in this novel; a place where they can grow, heal and learn, and as they do, the reader does the same alongside them. Again, I say, it is a magical experience.