Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan

GENRE: historical novel

1795, and a young woman called Mary Finch travels in haste from Cambridge to the Suffolk coast. She has been invited to meet her wealthy uncle - and so end a twenty-year estrangement. But before she reaches her destination she discovers a dying man on the road. He is a stranger, and yet he is carrying an oddly familiar watch bearing her uncle's initials. He also seems to know who Mary is, and hints that she is in terrible danger. His whispered warning soon exposes Mary to a ruthless conspiracy that threatens not only her family's reputation, but her very life. Far from home, Mary must learn quickly how to distinguish friend from foe. Can she trust the two men who want to help her? What is their interest in the mysterious Blackstone Key? Does it guard a secret treasure, or might it have a more sinister purpose...?

Since I am currently reading the second novel in Rose Melikan’s Mary Finch series, The Counterfeit Guest, I’d like to review the first novel, The Blackstone Key, first.

I was first drawn this novel because of the pretty cover, I admit, but the premise seemed to be interesting enough and I was really not disappointed. This is a lovely historical romantic spy novel/adventure, with a somewhat Gothic heroine and many interesting adventures.

This novel is a treat for lovers of historical fiction. It combines historical details, beautiful Georgian English, adventure, spies, smuggling, a touch of romance and great characters, as well as an interesting story. I, personally, really appreciated the fact that the author used Georgian English. Many historical novels are written in the style of modern formal English, but I just love it when authors go to the length of trying to be as authentic as possible. Also, historical details, and the historical background, are well incorporated into the story and are handled well and convincingly.

Mary Finch is a delightful new heroine. She is sweet, young and a lady, or should be one, but she is very bright and often acts outside the frame of Georgian decorum prescribed for ladies of her situation. She is not a tomboy; she is still a lady, but a more daring one. Mary travels to her long lost uncle’s estate called White Ladies after her parents’ death. Her estranged uncle finally broke the silence and invited her to live with him. But Mary is already met with excitement along the way, as their coach crashes and she comes upon an injured man that is somehow connected to her uncle and has the same sort of watch on him that her late father left her. The man dies, leaving her a cryptic warning and that’s when everything begins.

Once she arrives at White Ladies, she is attacked by smugglers, but saved by Captain Holland, with whom she begins a friendship. There seems to be some hidden romantic tension between them, but she is a rich heiress, whereas he is a poor captain, and they also take into account the rules of propriety. Mary also meets other interesting people, among them the charming Mr Deprez, who is attractive, competes with Holland for her attention and is just a bit too eager. Soon, Mary has to be really careful about whom to trust and she becomes engaged in an intrigue of smugglers that might just cost her her life.

This novel is not action packed, but it is adventurous and interesting, and provides for good entertainment. I suspected who the bad guy might be and I was right this time, but I was still kind of hoping I was wrong, because I actually really liked the character. Anyway, this is a pleasant read, all in all, and I recommend it to all who like historical fiction, adventure and mysteries, with a hint of romance.



Unknown said...

What a fantastic review! I love the sound of this - sort of the merging of two genres: historical and spy/mystery. This is certainly something I would enjoy I'm sure. Thanks. I have never heard of it before.

Blodeuedd said...

So you really like the bad guy, interesting. I may not be big mystery fan but I do make exceptions

Unknown said...

Wow! Sounds great...reminds me a little of Du Maurier's Jamaica Inn!

Julie P said...

This sounds like a great read! I am going to add it to my TBR list. Thanks for sharing....

danya said...

I haven't heard of this one before but it sounds like fun! Adding it to my wishlist now :)

A Tapestry of Words

Bookalicious Ramblings said...

Aaah, you already know how excited I am to read this!!! I just wish I had the time ... Excellent review, it just makes me suffer more that I can't read this NOW, even though I've had a copy for ages, as you know. ;)

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

What a gorgeous cover! And yay you for figuring out the murderer although sad that you liked the character-I hate when that happens.