A queen, a castle, a dark and ageless threat–all await Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes in this chilling new adventure.
The queen is Marie of Roumania: the doubly royal granddaughter of Victoria, Empress of the British Empire, and Alexander II, Tsar of Russia. A famous beauty who was married at seventeen into Roumania’s young dynasty, Marie had beguiled the Paris Peace Conference into returning her adopted country’s long-lost provinces, singlehandedly transforming Roumania from a backwater into a force.
The castle is Bran: a tall, quirky, ancient structure perched on high rocks overlooking the border between Roumania and its newly regained territory of Transylvania. The castle was a gift to Queen Marie, a thank-you from her people, and she loves it as she loves her own children.
The threat is . . . well, that is less clear. Shadowy figures, vague whispers, the fears of girls, dangers that may be only accidents. But this is a land of long memory and hidden corners, a land that had known Vlad the Impaler, a land from whose churchyards the shades creep.
When Queen Marie calls, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are as dubious as they are reluctant. But a young girl is involved, and a beautiful queen. Surely it won’t take long to shine light on this unlikely case of what would seem to be strigoi?
Or, as they are known in the West . . . vampires.
Laurie R King giveaway! There’s a great giveaway on the Allison & Busby website at the moment, it’s open to everyone and closes on June 30th. (Please let me win it!!)
Order a copy of this book for £15, get a signed bookplate. Use code share15 and get free P&P too!
Listen to the author reading from Castle Shade on YouTube.
My thoughts: this was a really enjoyable edition to the Russell and Holmes series – one I’ve dipped in an out of but haven’t quite managed to read all of them yet. Mind you it took me a while to read all of the original Sherlock Holmes stories too.
An older Holmes and his spirited young wife and partner Mary Russell, head off to Romania at the request of its Queen Marie – granddaughter of Queen Victoria and one of the real figures in this series.
She is worried about a threat against her youngest daughter’s life and their happiness in Castle Bran (which may have inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula) is damaged by her fears. Holmes and Russell investigate the spate of strange incidents that have occurred during the queen’s visits.
There’s lots of adventure and derring do in the nighttime countryside as the pair attempt to keep watch over the village and identify the culprit – then things escalate.
A really fun, slightly silly romp through 1920s history – royalty, the looming threat of the Bolsheviks in Russia (Queen Marie was Nicholas II’s cousin), hysteria, folklore and bitterness. Mary Russell is a tremendous character, a perfect modern female foil to Holmes’ slightly old fashioned ways and a lot quicker on the ball than dear Dr Watson back at home in London.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.