Photographer, book reviewer, mama, cat-lover in Seattle. Originally from England.
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This book is OUT TODAY, everyone!!!! I am so excited to be posting about it and reviewing it TODAY. This is absolutely going to go down as one of my favorite reads of the year. I read all over the map (as in sci-if, horror, thrillers, you name it), but this was a truly fun read for me, with only a little bloodshed between the pages. So loosen your bodices and get comfy, and get ready for trip back home to London, England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First; it’s 1601.
*Thank you (again) to the amazing peeps at Rockstar Book Tours for including me on this blog tour!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, VIRGINIA BOECKER
Virginia Boecker is the author of The Witch Hunter series and An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason. A graduate of the University of Texas, she had a decade-long career in technology before quitting to become a full-time writer. When she isn't writing, Virginia likes running, reading, traveling, and trying new things (most recently: learning to drive a boat). She has lived all over the world but currently resides in beautiful Lake Oswego, Oregon with her husband, children, a dog called George and a cat named Thomas.
You can visit Virginia online at virginiaboecker.com or on Instagram @virgboecker
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: AN ASSASSINS GUIDE TO LOVE AND TREASON
Author: Virginia Boecker
Pub. Date: October 23, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
When Lady Katherine's father is killed for being an illegally practicing Catholic, she discovers treason wasn't the only secret he's been hiding: he was also involved in a murder plot against the reigning Queen Elizabeth I. With nothing left to lose, Katherine disguises herself as a boy and travels to London to fulfill her father's mission, and to take it one step further--kill the queen herself.
Katherine's opportunity comes in the form of William Shakespeare's newest play, which is to be performed in front of Her Majesty. But what she doesn't know is that the play is not just a play--it's a plot to root out insurrectionists and destroy the rebellion once and for all.
The mastermind behind this ruse is Toby Ellis, a young spy for the queen with secrets of his own. When Toby and Katherine are cast opposite each other as the play's leads, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another. But the closer they grow, the more precarious their positions become. And soon they learn that star-crossed love, mistaken identity, and betrayal are far more dangerous off the stage than on.
Did you know that Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night was written to capture the would-be assassin of Queen Elizabeth I?!
And what do you get when you combine a cross-dressing Catholic called Katherine Arundell, out to avenge the death of her father, and put her slap-dab in the middle of merry old London?
‘An Assassin’s Guide to Love & Treason’, of course, and it’s quite scrumptious.
This romp through 1601 will have you questioning any history you may think you’ve learned about Elizabethan London, about the dalliances of Shakespearean players, and about the tension between the Protestants and Catholics at that time.
Being from England myself, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a bit of ‘history’ from home to indulge in. I delighted in this witty, clever tale about young Lady Katherine Arundell from Cornwall, who witnesses her father’s execution for being a practicing Catholic. This was because England is now Protestant under Queen Elizabeth I, and to avenge her father’s death, she then goes to London and plans to assassinate Queenie herself. Tall order perhaps.
Katherine constructs a plan, along with her merry band of Catholic conspirators; this means she must infiltrate the upcoming production of ‘Twelfth Night’, and create a new male identity for herself, Kit.
This is really at the crux of how clever Virginia Boecker is being with ‘Assassin’s Guide’ (and I know she knows this, because of her most brilliant Author’s Note in the back; only I do hope everyone reads it!). As many of you may know, women weren’t players in Shakespeare’s plays, men were, and they played all the women’s parts too. In order for Katherine to disguise herself in London, she must become Kit (this was a name short for Christopher back then), as well as to be a player on the stage.
She then gets the part as Viola, who (if you haven’t read ‘Twelfth Night’) dresses up as a man in the play. It all becomes quite complicated when Kit becomes drawn to Toby, who is another lead player, and writer, and unbeknownst to Kit, a spy for Elizabeth Regina; he’s trying to deduce which of the Twelfth Night players is the treasonous one. Yet he’s falling for Kit, just as he did previously for the late Kit Marlowe (that’s Christopher Marlowe to you).
Katherine’s own confidence as a ‘man’ mirrors Viola’s growing confidence in the play, particularly as Toby and ‘Kit’ rehearse together, and the themes of bisexuality and questions about societal gender norms play like their own characters in the book. Just like the very irony we see in having men play the parts of women (who play men), this is a double irony, if you will, forces the characters to constantly question their identities, as well as their loyalties. At a time when many only had loyalty to the Crown or to God, questioning your identity was frowned against and was highly confusing, and naturally left you open to being cast out by all sorts of weaknesses such as witchcraft and going back to the Old Religion (Catholicism). You certainly didn’t admit to liking the same sex, even if you did put on a dress for all to see in the Globe Theatre.
The ‘supporting cast’ of William Shakespeare, the Wright Brothers, and even the Queen, lend so much color to the tapestry that Boecker has woven for this ‘Guide’, and readers will love it when familiar names and places appear in the story. I’d also say there’s a little bit of everything here to make this an all-round great read: we start off with a murder, and then we have action, romance, and a lot of wit and charm. Shakespeare would approve of all of that.
Virginia has actually taken great pains to do her research and in her Author’s Note points out where she has meddled with the history and where she has kept to the facts. I absolutely loved this small part of the book, as well as the long bibliography she has listed.
While you may not come out with a proper Elizabethan history lesson, or an actual assassin’s guide, you will be thoroughly entertained, and may (like myself) be inclined to read up on your English history and to even re-read some Shakespeare!
This was a solid 5 star read for me.
Jolly good show.
**I played Maria in my high school performance of ‘Twelfth Night’.
For a chance to win one of 3 copies (US only, sorry) of this amazing book click on this ASSASSIN’S GUIDE GIVEAWAY LINK!
And next...links to BUY THE BOOK!
And now to follow the rest of the blog tour, here’s the FULL SCHEDULE LINK!
I hope you have been totally inspired and pick up a copy of the book, and GOOD LUCK with the giveaway too!
x ~ K
“If music be the food of love, play on...”
*Guess how much this is worth?