Wednesday 9 January 2019

Review ~ Blood Queen by Joanna Courtney


My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Cold. Ruthless. Deadly. The myth of Lady Macbeth looms large. But behind the villainous portrait stands a real woman. This is her story . . .

My knowledge of medieval Scottish history is sketchy at best, as most of my understanding of this dark time comes from reading Shakespeare's tragedy. So, to be fair, my image of Lady Macbeth is that of Shakespeare's manipulative harpy, the deranged woman who was hell-bent on seizing power, urging her husband, Macbeth, to commit regicide.

In Blood Queen, an altogether, more realistic Lady Macbeth comes to life, cleverly merging fiction with what factual evidence is known about her and the times in which she lived. Interweaving the lives of Macbeth's Queen and Duncan's Queen, is inspired, as it gives a fascinating portrayal of two medieval women, whose lives were shaped, and destinies controlled, by the marriages they were forced to make. Both women are very different and yet, the connection between them is powerful, as is their unyielding love for their men who would be King.

In order for the story to feel authentic it cannot shy away from the inherent danger of living in a time when callous disregard for life was almost commonplace and so, there is a certain amount of violence in the story, after all Blood Queen is about a dangerous time, and of the paths chosen by ruthless men and ambition women. However, the author uses this sense of danger to heighten the tension and succeeds in allowing the characters to emerge with unique personalities, whilst at the same time creating a strong sense of their place in history.

The author writes well and uses her considerable skill as a historical fiction writer to bring time and place alive and it's obvious from reading the story that a huge amount of research has been done to make the story feel authentic. I found the family tree at the beginning and the author's notes at the end really useful and they helped to increase my understanding of what happened when, to whom and why.

Blood Queen is book one in a new series of books which will focus on the imagined lives of Shakespeare's most infamous queens, I'm already looking forward to seeing which queen is next on the list...

My reading table

Twitter @joannacourtney1 #BloodQueen



  1. Thanks so much for reading, Jo, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Next on the list is.... Ophelia!! Coming to a book near you later this year. xx

    1. It's always a pleasure to read one of your books, Joanna.
      I will look forward to reading all about Ophelia !


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