This was an especially exciting book for me to get my hands on, because my previous review of JoAnn Spears' first novel, "Six Of One" is actually featured on the back cover of this current novel! It's the first time I've ever been quoted on an author's published novel, so I was incredibly honored and excited to see my words there. (Thank you, JoAnn!). Now, for my review...
One of the things I like most about "Seven Will Out" (and what I loved about the prequel), is JoAnn Spears' attention to detail and impressive research and knowledge about the time period. Sure, the novel is supposed to be silly and lighthearted - with made-up stories told from historical figures about what "really" happened in their lives. But that can't be successfully done without a serious understanding of the "true", passed down history that we know in real life. JoAnn demonstrates a seriously impressive background of research. Some of the women she writes about (Arabella Stuart, Bess of Hardwick, and Anne Hathaway Shakespeare, to name a few) are much lesser known than other Tudor figures... and so, the knowledge of their lives is not only necessary, but admirable.
This is where I don't want to spoil any of the story for all of you potential readers. I just want to say that JoAnn (as in the last novel) does a fabulous job of crafting a very clever, easy-to-read-and-understand story about some of our favorite Tudor characters. Her research, as previously stated, is impeccable. She manages to educate readers on the details of these characters' histories (and in this novel, several Shakespeare plays!), while keeping the tone of writing light and conversational. It's like being in the room with a couple of gossipy modern-era women, all speaking casually and jokingly with one another. That's the fun part, and the historic detail woven into the clever stories she writes is the educational part.
These are silly stories - there's no denying that. In this novel we hear about scandalous affairs between two unlikely Elizabethans, we dive into the mysterious surrounding the true author(s) of William Shakespeare's works, and we contemplate more than a couple of famous historical deaths (or murders?). JoAnn makes all of these stories interesting and surprising in their own way, but once again, I'm most impressed by the level of knowledge and depth of understanding that she has with all of these people and the *true* stories passed down by history. It takes someone who really knows her stuff to be able to weave such a clever story.
I am, once again, very happy that I was given the opportunity to read and review "Seven Will Out." It's a fun continuation of Dolly's travel to the afterlife, and a nice segue from the famous faces of Henry VIII's court, to the intrigue of Elizabeth's court. It makes me wonder if JoAnn will continue this journey beyond the Tudors. Maybe we'll have some Stuart time travel to look forward to next? (I'm guessing here - I haven't actually asked JoAnn about her upcoming projects, but I hope I'll get to read and review them whenever they are published!). In the meantime, I want to leave this review with you all, along with my recommendation to pick this novel up and add it to your Tudor bookshelf. And if you haven't already read "Six Of One", you'd better start with that one! I don't think you'll regret JoAnn's clever and fun, lighthearted and refreshingly modern take on historical fiction. Like I said (and am quoted on the back of this novel) about "Six Of One", it's sure to satisfy your fun Tudor craving!
Many thanks, again, to Amy Bruno from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, for reaching out to me about being involved in this tour, and to JoAnn Spears for her interest in having me read her work (both now and previously!). I was honored to be a part of this tour and hope all my readers will enjoy.
Happy reading, Tudor Enthusiasts!