Three ways to fall.
Hester, Melis and Hope have banded together to raise Hester’s illegitimate son Rafe since their father’s death years before. Hester, having being coerced and raped, hopes never to see the man who fathered her child again – the Duke in whose household she was working. But with Rafe now nine and approaching ten, Villiers makes a sudden, unwelcome reappearance in the sisters’s lives, wanting to claim the boy as his son. Knowing what George is truly like, Hester makes a desperate bid for freedom. But with Melis seeing more visions of death than normal, and Hope’s beauty drawing attention from those following them, is there anyone they can trust?
Firstly – how utterly stunning is this cover? I’m in love with the sheer beauty of it all. One of those moments where I might need the hardback version as well as the ebook simply because it is so gorgeous. And the contents do not let it down.
As we follow the sisters through their tale, the various perspectives allow us to fully engage with the narrative. Utterly compelling in nature, it feels impossible to pull away from, and yet sometimes impossible to look; when you know that something has to happen for the story to progress, or when a prediction from Melis must come true, it leaves you torn in the most tantalizing of ways. It could be argued that the amount of foreshadowing we’re given removes surprises, but I think it gives more to the story; knowing that something will happen at some point soon puts you on edge.
The writing is so engaging that you don’t notice the pages or time slipping by, finding yourself having been sat for hours reading without a second thought. It brings history to life, especially the horrors directed at women – from the scandal of being an unwed mother to the risks of being considered a witch – of the era. It is impossible to not be swept along with the rising tides as time progresses.
The characters are varied and so well crafted, they feel like people you know by the end of the book. It got to a point where I felt like I could predict how a character would act for the most part as they were so real to me, and this is a real skill in writing people; crafting them to the point of familiarity. Both the good and the bad – and those in between – felt honed and vivid.
Every now and again a book comes along where you really fall in love with who you meet, and I wanted to reach through the pages and hug the family tight. They have been through so much before the story fully starts, then even more as it commences, and I just wanted to make it all magically better for them. The author truly made me love these sisters, including – not despite – their faults.
Thank you so much to Penguin Random House for my e-copy of the book, and to the author for bringing these people so much to life.