This book offered a very interesting premise - mysterious gargoyle statues found in 2017 in an old English church, that seem to correlate to a series of murders both in the 16th century, as well as present-day. The book features two stories that coincide, and each chapter bounces back and forth between 1532 and 2017. This in and of itself is ambitious of any author to do. Sometimes storylines (when chopped up and shortened in each chapter like this) are difficult to keep up with. I'll say that wasn't a problem in this novel. Both stories moved easily and naturally beside one another, and I was impressed by Mr. Gordonson's style in writing both.
Present-day Margeoux is studying a church in Norfolk, England, and teams up with a man named Don, who is responsible for the church's restoration. Together, they uncover a number of gargoyles statues inside the church - an odd place for them to be, in light of traditional church architecture. They are positioned not only inside, rather than outside (to drive demons away from the holy place), but they are also located directly above where the congregants would have sat. Their presence in the church is unnerving anyway, but even more so when death appears to follow their discovery. A series of murders and disappearances begin, and even more strangely, those events also appear to be reflected in the gargoyle statues themselves (you'll have to read to see what I mean).
The 16th-century storyline is also rife with murder and scandal. I won't give anything away by going into detail here, but suffice it to say that both storylines are equally engaging, in my opinion, and the mystery of the church, the gargoyles, and the people who worked there (in both time periods) comes together nicely by the end. I'll say this: The villain is not someone you'd necessarily suspect! That alone should entice any lover of Tudor fiction to read the book - there's quite a good twist in the end.
"This one is painted on a broad canvas, woven rich in historical imagery and modern characterization. Lush and lusty, fascinating and smart. Give it a read."
The back cover blurb for the novel is below:
"Who can solve the mystery of the gargoyles?
After discovering rare gargoyles mysteriously positioned inside an ancient church being restored in the small English town of Atwelle, the architect Don Whitby and a young research historian Margeaux Wood realize that the gargoyles are predicting the bizarre murders that are occurring in the town. Five hundred years earlier when the church is being built, two powerful families in Atwelle are contesting control of the region in the delicate backdrop of King Henry VIII's dispute with the Pope over the King's divorce. In the middle of these conflicts, the same bizarre murders are being committed in the town. Two stories of identical macabre murders five hundred years apart ─ One surprising solution in the mystery of the gargoyles and the Atwelle Confession."
Thanks again to FSB Associates for the review copy of this book, and the chance to spread the word about its recent publication. Tudor enthusiasts, if you're interested in this one, a purchase link can be found here.
For more information about Joel Gordonson and his other work, check out his website.
And lastly, if my review and Steve Berry's endorsement haven't convinced you enough to read this novel, have a look at the book trailer for "The Atwelle Confession". Enjoy, and happy reading!