First my thanks go to Catherine from MadeGlobal Publishing and Derek Wilson for sending me a copy of this book to review…
The Devil’s Chalice is third book in the Thomas Treviot series by DK Wilson. What sets this series apart from other historical fiction novels is that the puzzle around which the story is set is not fictional at all but a real Tudor mystery.
The year is 1549 and Thomas Treviot, a London goldsmith, is asked by Archbishop Cranmer to go and speak to someone being held in the Tower of London. The man in question is William West who is currently under suspicion of the attempted murder of his uncle. It sounds so simple. All Thomas must do is speak with the man to see if he thinks he is guilty – the Archbishop trusts his judgement.
But what Thomas uncovers is not simple at all but a slowly unfolding complex web that will draw him and those close to him into perilous danger. Politics, religion and societal problems all play their part and muddy the waters, but it is perhaps an elusive magus and his practice of the black arts where the most menace arises.
To complicate poor Thomas’s life even further, his headstrong fourteen year old son, Raphael, has got himself mixed up in the trouble brewing in Norwich, where a rebellion led by Robert Kett is in full swing. The goldsmith is going to have to navigate these waters very carefully if he is to successfully achieve what Cranmer has asked of him whilst keeping those he cares about out of harms way.
I really enjoyed reading The Devil’s Chalice. Whilst the story itself captures the imagination due to it being based upon a real Tudor mystery, the thread of superstition and black magic that is woven through it and how such things were perceived by Tudor society, had me hooked from the beginning.
The characters we meet as the story progresses are lifelike and easy to imagine as real (both the real ones and the fictional ones). Thomas Treviot makes for a very interesting main character and those around him, an engaging supporting cast. To make the story seem even more life-like, no part of Master Treviot’s life is ignored: he goes to work in his jewellery shop, goes to his guild, goes to church and spends time with his friends and family, all of which helps to move the story forward.
One of the strengths of D K Wilson’s writing is knowing how much historical detail to add to the story. Although the book is full of facts, it never once feels overbearing or that it is obscuring the story he is trying to tell. The pace of the story is perfectly balanced and the vivid descriptions of the places we are taken to are brought to life with ease, whether it is a wherry ride down the Thames or a walk through a Tudor fair.
I can’t recommend this book (nor the series) highly enough, not only for its accurate portrayal of such a turbulent period in English history (the author is an historian) but also because the premise of basing it on real Tudor crime records is fresh and engaging. Such a combination makes you feel as if you are there experiencing it yourself rather than reading about it in a book. If you enjoy historical fiction or enjoy reading about the Tudor period, you will love the latest instalment in this series.
The Devil’s Chalice will be released on 30th September 2016 and is now available for pre-order.