Title: The Embroidered Book
Author: Kate Heartfield
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: 17th February 2022
‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that’s all’
1768. Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles they rename her Marie Antoinette.
The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless. When they were only children, they discovered a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.
In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take control of their lives.
But every spell requires a sacrifice. And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.
I’m a bit history obsessed and I have a particular fascination with Marie Antoinette so I was so intrigued by the whole concept of mixing a bit of magic and fantasy into the story of her and her sister. The Embroidered Book follows Charlotte and Antoine, both daughters of the Habsburg Empress as they are sent to different countries to marry foreign royals in the name of alliances. Throughout their lives they utilise ‘The Embroidered Book’, a book of spells they discovered in their childhood, to manipulate aspects of their circumstances. However, the magic they employ has consequences and repercussions both in their relationship with each other and in the world.
The Embroidered Book is a hefty read, clocking in at over 600 pages, but I have to say it didn’t really feel long to me. It’s a fascinating concept which I think worked really quite nicely. I loved the idea of using magic having a kind of sacrificial quality where, to get what you want, you have to give something or some part of yourself up. The author has clearly done a great deal of research into the period and the historical figures she inhabits in the book. She breathes life into them in an incredibly original way which, despite the fantasy elements, feels really rather plausible. There is a great immersive quality to The Embroidered Book which really draws the reader into this world and makes them care about the outcome for these two sisters. Overall, a highly enjoyable and atmospherically written historical epic with a magical twist!
Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me on this tour and organising it. I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.
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