Title: In A Treacherous Court
Author: Michelle Diener
Publisher: Gallery Books
Format: Trade Paperback
How I Read It: Finished Copy from Publisher
An unconventional woman. A deadly enemy.
A clash of intrigue, deception, and desire…
1525: Artist Susanna Horenbout is sent from Belgium to be Henry VIII’s personal illuminator inside the royal palace. But her new homeland greets her with an attempt on her life, and the King’s most lethal courtier, John Parker, is charged with keeping her safe. As further attacks are made, Susanna and Parker realize that she unknowingly carries the key to a bloody plot against the throne. For while Richard de la Pole amasses troops in France for a Yorkist invasion, a traitor prepares to trample the kingdom from within.
Who is this mastermind? What are men vying to kill the woman Parker protects with his life? With a motley gang of urchins, Susanna’s wits, and Parker’s fierce instincts, honed on the streets and in palace chambers, the two slash through deadly layers of deceit in a race against time. For in the court of Henry VIII, secrets are the last to die…
(from the back of the book)
“I am the Keeper of Paradise, Purgatory, and Hell.” John Parker spoke through gritted teeth.
With an opening like that how can you not want to read this book?
I will admit it…I made a mistake and read the second book, “Keeper of the King’s Secrets” first, which means I knew how this novel played out before I even opened the first page. Yet, I still wanted to read this novel because I wanted to know how Parker and Susanna met and the events that led up to the second novel.
First off, let me start by saying that this was one of my favorite Tudor novels. I enjoyed it so much that I am not sure others will be able to top it. It kind of surprised me how much I liked this novel as I hold Tudor-themed fiction to fairly high standards because I have studied this era for what seems like ages.
Having known the ending when I started this book, I knew that the plot would have to have a certain
je ne sais quoi to hold my attention. Thankfully, it did and I was hooked from the very first page. There was so much going on in this novel that I was not expecting, especially when the author threw in the Duke of Suffolk could be involved in some sort of plot against the King. Some events were actual events pulled from history while others were created for entertainment purposes. Plus, there was an air of mystery about this book which added to the intrigue. Even though I already knew the ending I wasn’t exactly sure how the author was going to get there so I could not put this book down.
In A Treacherous Court had several characters, some major some minor and just like the actual Tudor court most were there to see that their own status was elevated. I loved seeing the way they intertwined with each other and as this was a historical mystery of sorts the characters played their parts well, each one was like string that led to the next character. What surprised me was that none of the characters felt forced. Each one perfectly balanced the book
As for the main characters, Parker and Susanna, I was eager to see how they would be portrayed in this novel and I was glad to see that Parker was not a status climber; he truly wanted to show his loyalty to the King. Having majored in Tudor history, I had created my own version of John Parker and Susanna Horenbout (who were actually married in real life), yet the information that is out there on them is very limited. I found Michelle Diener’s interpretation of Parker and Susanna to be brilliantly done and was eager to watch them develop as the story progressed.
With this being a book set in the court of Henry VIII, it is hard not analyze the way that the author portrays Henry VIII. As this book is set while Henry was still married to Catherine of Aragon we see a younger more pleasant Henry, one who believes in courtly love and doing right by his courtiers. Yet at the same time we see the traits that Henry became known. I would have loved to have seen more of Henry in this book as it has to have been one of my favorite portrayals of him
The Historical Aspect
Way before I read the author’s notes I could tell that Michelle Diener drew heavily off of Alison Weir’s nonfiction Tudor books, which made me happy because the historical elements in the book were spot on. Although, with any work of historical fiction the author does take a few creative liberties and In A Treacherous Court is no exception. However, the invented history that takes place in this novel was so well done and so believable no one would even question it. In fact, several of the fictitious events I could see those courtiers carrying them out.
I loved this novel. It had the perfect blend of history, mystery, and romance. Tudor fans will be both enthralled and delighted!
Violence: This book starts off with a man being murdered and that was only the beginning of the body count…so it is filled violence. But, it wasn’t exceedingly gory where you would retch reading it. I felt that for the type of novel it was the violence/gore/death was well handled.
Romance: There are a few brief romantic encounters, but I personally did not find them to be explicit.
Language: A few curse words pop up here and there, but they are few and very far between.
Until We Meet Again
Best Wishes & Happy Reading,