- Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (July 31, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780062686572
- ISBN-13: 978-0062686572
- ASIN: 0062686577
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Locksmith's Daughter: A Novel Paperback – July 31, 2018
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From the Back Cover
The unforgettable story of Queen Elizabeth’s ruthless spymaster and his daring protégée
Mallory Bright is the only daughter of London’s most ingenious locksmith and has apprenticed with her father since childhood. After scandal destroys her reputation, Mallory has returned to her father’s home and lives almost as a recluse, ignoring the whispers of their neighbors. But Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster and a frequent client of Mallory’s father, sees potential in Mallory and draws her into his world of danger and deception. The locksmith’s daughter is not only good at cracking locks, he discovers, she also has a talent for codes, spycraft and intrigue. With Mallory at his service, no scheme in England or abroad is safe from discovery.
But Mallory’s loyalty wavers when she witnesses the brutal and bloody public execution of three Jesuit priests and realizes the human cost of her espionage. And later, when she discovers the identity of a Catholic spy and a conspiracy that threatens the kingdom, she is forced to choose between her country and her heart.
Once Sir Francis’s greatest asset, Mallory is fast becoming his worst threat—and there is only one way the Queen’s spymaster deals with his enemies . . .
About the Author
Australian-born Karen Brooks is the author of nine novels, an academic, a newspaper columnist and social comentator, and has appeared regularly on national TV and radio. Before turning to academia, she was an army officer, and dabbled in acting. She lives in Hobart, Tasmania.
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Although this novel has a interesting premise, I found the plot points to be very predictable. The reader doesn't really start getting a clear picture of "scandalous incident*", i.e. what happened preceding the novel until about half way through the book. That said, I felt The Locksmith's Daughter could have started earlier than it actually does. The events that have caused Mallory so much pain seems to be very important to her current mental and emotional state, although we only see it in glimpses and even then I felt it was glossed over (as are much of the events in the novel.)
I enjoyed learning about the locksmith trade at the time, and did find it plausible that Mallory, as the daughter of an indulgent father, would have knowledge of such things. What I did not find believable was the sometimes too modern dialogue.
I sadly found the writing style and prose to be kind of tepid, unimaginative, and predictable (the only scene that grabbed me was the execution scene.) What's more, even though the plot seemed to follow familiar beats, the characters often seemed to act at random and without motivation or build up. Perhaps if we'd gotten that full backstory earlier, some actions would have made more sense? In turn, I also felt the romance aspect was very forced and shoe-horned. Overall, these lacking elements meant I found The Locksmith's Daughter to be a bit of a slog since I didn't particularly care about the plot or characters.
Needless to say, I was disappointed by this one. Sorry!
But, her return home after being beaten, abused and generally treated less well than one would a pig, set her on a course that would intimately weave her own skills, her mother’s refusal to forego her catholic beliefs, and her sex into the future of the country and monarch, as she came to work for Walsingham, principal secretary and spymaster for Queen Elizabeth, a man who collected information about all in the realm, with an almost fanatical zeal to rout out Catholicism, all couched under the auspices of the faith and its followers being traitorous and treacherous to the Queen. Here is where Malory truly grows and shows that limitations should simply be based in ability and not with some other nebulous standard of faith, appearance or sex, she is used by Walsingham to gather and report on information, usually to do with the “Catholic Threat”, she’s mesmerized and thirsty for the positive feedback and attention received, all things long denied her in the past few years. Skiled as a lockpick, with a familiarity in the tricks, booby-traps and construction of locks, each becoming ever-more intricate as the secrets they keep safe are more complex or dangerous to their owners.
But, an awakening comes to Mallory as she sees the aftermath of the secrets she’s helped to unlock: and her own questions start to arrive: from personal relationships and her mother’s unwillingness to shed her papist ways to her best friend Caleb’s dancing with acceptable and not with a very mercurial Queen who takes affront quickly, served by one who seems to see threats in every corner. When the tides turn yet again, and her loyalties to family and country are tested, it’s glorious to see how she maneuvers through the dangers, taking the largest chances possible, to extricate herself from the grips of the fervor that inflames the crown.
Nothing could please this history geek more than another story with a heroine, flawed yet brave, determined and clever, to work in the seediest and most treacherous place of all – the machinations around Queen Elizabeth and her court – with the threats (real and imagined) to the crown, one without clear heir, the ongoing purge of Catholicism started with her father’s (Henry VIII) schism from Rome, and the customs, descriptions, and even quick mentions of court and courtiers – Brooks has written a story that is gripping intelligent, and hopeful, even when things seem darkest. I love history and historic fiction, and the research, characters and the times just come alive in this story, and had me glued to each page and moment: smart fiction that engages and delights, perfect for that ‘sense’ of late 16th century England and the people who built lives and survived the changing tides.
I received an eARC copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.