Now that I have completed this book, I am caught up with the series however I decided to keep reading and re-read the other books in this series so that I could read the later books with a more complete view of the larger narrative.
I was excited for this one because it was going to take us out of London and into the country with the promise of finding out more about Sebastian’s history. That was the big draw for me with this book, but I have to admit, I sort of missed foggy old London.
If you haven’t read this series, this would be a difficult book to pick up and read as a standalone. This one focuses a lot on other treads of Sebastian and Hero’s narrative so if you are thinking of starting here, pick another book. Even the next book in the series would be easier to pick up and read than this one. The series is excellent and I highly recommend reading them all as a series in order but there are some that can read as standalones but again this book isn’t one of them.
Ayleswick-on-Teme, England, 1813. Sebastian has come to this seemingly peaceful Shropshire village to honor a slain friend and to learn more about his own ancestry. But when the body of a lovely widow is found on the banks of the River Teme, a bottle of laudanum at her side, the village’s inexperienced new magistrate turns to St. Cyr for help. Almost immediately Sebastian realizes that Emma Chance did not take her own life, but it is less easy to discern exactly how she died, and why. He and wife Hero soon discover that Emma was hiding both her true identity and her real reasons for traveling to Ayleswick.
Also troubling are the machinations of Lucien Bonaparte, the estranged brother of French Emperor Napoleon; held captive under the British government’s watchful eye, the younger Bonaparte is restless, ambitious, and treacherous.
Sebastian’s investigation takes on new urgency when he discovers that Emma was not the first, or even the second, beautiful young woman in the village to die under suspicious circumstances. Home to the eerie ruins of an ancient monastery, Ayleswick reveals itself to be a dark and dangerous place of secrets that have festered among the villagers for decades—and a violent past that may be connected to Sebastian’s own unsettling origins. And as he faces his most diabolical opponent ever, he is forced to consider what malevolence he’s willing to embrace in order to destroy a killer. (summary from Goodreads)
Note, this review from here on out contains some mild spoilers so if you haven’t read the previous books in the series and you don’t want spoilers stop reading now.
I don’t know that I loved this one as much as some of the others. I think I was expecting a lot more from this one. After Jamie Knox died in the last book, I was frustrated because I thought he could have brought more to the story in future books but alas he is gone, so I thought this book might bring Sebastian more answers. He went to this village to find out more about his past and see if Jamie’s grandmother might be able to tell him more about their potential father and he was hoping to find out more about his mother and her mysterious necklace. But when it came down to it, this book offered no more in the way of information and who he is really.
I wanted to know more about his family and history and instead it just felt like filler. I didn’t feel like I learned much about him and having this book set in the country with so many potential extended family for Sebastian, I just needed more to happen for him I think.
I found that while this book had to potential to have more political intrigue and implications with Napoleon’s brother living in the same village, but nothing really seemed to happen on that front. I think perhaps I am missing Jarvis and all the hustle and bustle of London. The author does such a great job capitalizing on the elements and feel of London that I come to expect it each time I crack open a book but this one just fell a little flat for me. Still good but not my favorite in the series.