Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: The Spoils of Avalon by Mary F. Burns

The death of a humble clergyman in 1877 leads amateur sleuths Violet Paget and John Singer Sargent into a medieval world of saints and kings-including the legendary Arthur-as they follow a trail of relics and antiquities lost since the destruction of Glastonbury Abbey in 1539. Written in alternating chapters between the two time periods, The Spoils of Avalon creates a sparkling, magical mystery that bridges the gap between two worlds that could hardly be more different-the industrialized, Darwinian, materialistic Victorian Age and the agricultural, faith-infused life of a medieval abbey on the brink of violent change at the hands of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell. First in a new series of historical mysteries, The Spoils of Avalon introduces two unlikely detectives and life-long friends-beginning as young people on the verge of making their names famous for the next several decades throughout Europe and America: the brilliant and brittle Violet Paget, known as the writer Vernon Lee, and the talented, genial portrait painter John Singer Sargent.

Received for review.

I'm a huge mystery fan and love to try new authors so I was excited to give this a read.  I liked the idea of the using two real people as fictional detectives but it seemed as if the fictional versions of the characters had a bit too much modern thinking imposed upon them.

While John was a likeable character Violet came across very cold and, frankly, bitchy.  She just seemed spoiled and obnoxious.  I'm sure that wasn't the author's intent but it was the result nonetheless.

The mystery itself was interesting, although switching back and forth between the two time periods interrupted the flow and sapped some of the reading enjoyment.  The resolution was nicely handled though, which was a bonus.

Overall, this is rather unwieldy reading but if you enjoy historical fiction as well as mysteries it may be worth a try.  It's certainly an intriguing start to a new series.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

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