Title: The Heretic’s Creed (Ursula Blanchard #14)
Author: Fiona Buckley
Publisher: Creme de la Crime
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Setting: Elizabethan England
Source: Net Galley
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2017
Ursula Blanchard must acquire a mysterious medieval manuscript in the latest enthralling historical adventure.”
“February, 1577. ” Sir William Cecil has a dangerous new mission for Ursula Blanchard. He has asked her to visit Stonemoor House on the bleak Yorkshire moors, the home of a group of recusant women led by Abbess Philippa Gould. In their possession is an ancient book, and the Queen s advisor, Dr John Dee, is eager to get hold of it.
However, while the Abbess is anxious to sell the book, others such as her half-sister Bella believe it to be heretical and demand that it be burned. It is not Sir William s first attempt to secure the book. His two previous emissaries vanished without trace. What happened to them and will Ursula suffer the same fate?
Overall, I liked this book. It had a good story and Buckley is aces at setting a scene. Her descriptions of the English moors makes the reader feel the cold and desolation of the scene.
What I didn’t know when I requested this book, was that it was the 14th book in the series. I had never heard of this series or author prior to seeing the book on Net Galley. That being said, and without having read any of the other books, I still think it does just fine as a stand alone. Every once in a while, prior references were made to previous “adventures” so you know you’re missing something, but it didn’t seem pertinent to the story. However, I thought that character development was on the light side. This could be because by now, the reader should be familiar with these characters and maybe the author takes that for granted. Still, it makes it so that the novel is more story driven than character driven. It also makes the main character, Ursula, feel contradictory.
On the one hand, she’s an agent of Queen Elizabeth and has been sent on many “missions” in the past. This makes her a strong, independent woman for the times, in charge of herself and of others. She carries lock picks and knows how to use them. Then, the next thing you know she’s in a panic, fearful, and crying. Is this supposed to be her character’s flaw? Is this normal for Ursula? I can’t really say.
In the end, it was an interesting book and read very much like a gothic novel. It’s eerie and suspenseful in the same vein as Jane Eyre or Northanger Abbey but not like Stephen King. I’d recommend this book to fans of Gothic novels, period novels, and strong female leads. I’ve been considering getting the first book and seeing how that goes.