*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources blog tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Resigned to another lifetime of being a witch’s familiar, Caitlyn has found a degree of peace in her role as the Duke of Normandy’s protector and spy.
But that peace is shattered when she returns to her native land only to come face-to-face with her past, and fall in love with a man who she desperately hopes will become her future.
A Stain on the Soul is the second book in the Caitlyn series (check here for my review of Book 1), and I definitely think it best to read them in order, as much of the plot and characterisation here leads on directly from events in the previous book and much would be missed by reading it as a standalone story.
This time around there is more intrigue, greater danger and some quite steamy sex scenes. Caitlyn may not be aging naturally but she is certainly growing up from the naive girl-Queen she was when we first met her! She has settled into her slave role with her usual grace: accepting life as it is, but with a keen eye for changes in her favour. Likewise she forges bonds with those around her even as she is aware that she cannot trust anyone and will most likely outlive everyone. Ever the pragmatist.
I love that Davies mingles historical fact, fiction and rumour so seamlessly here that I have to do actual research to uncover which parts of her novels did, or may have, happened. For example, the courting of Matilda by William was clearly invention to fit with the witchcraft element of the story here. Except it wasn’t, rumour has it that things happened almost as Davies has described, and in fact her plot gives a more plausible basis for the events than was found in real life!
One aspect I was slightly less keen on in this novel was Caitlyn’s vacillating love life. She is put into a terrible dilemma and I didn’t envy her one bit for the decisions she had to make, but I found her constant worrying at the subject a little bit repetitive and was glad when she flung herself back into the espionage game and regained some of her legendary composure.
The plot here is packed with peril and the reader is genuinely in fear for Caitlyn at numerous points in the text. We are also brought full circle as she returns to Wales and some old faces, like Wulfstan, reappear pitting their old motivations against this newly hardened heroine. The ending is superb: a shocking cliffhanger that really left me wondering how Caitlyn would manage her next challenge…
Luckily I’ll find out when I join the blog tour for Book 3 on 1st November! I recommend you join me, as if you enjoy historical fiction with a capable heroine and a witchy twist then you will adore Caitlyn.
Arlette hissed at him, sounding remarkably like a cat herself, and Herluin paled and lowered his foot, then turned away from me. I cocked my head at her in mock appreciation, though it was for the noise she had made and not because of her intervention, for I was more than capable of taking care of myself. She hissed again, at me this time, and I gazed back at her without blinking. Maybe I should suggest we swapped places? I would dearly love to take a turn at playing mother to the most powerful man in Normandy, rather than playing familiar to a witch.
– Elizabeth Davies, A Stain on the Soul
Find more from Elizabeth Davies at her website here or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
A Stain on the Soul releases on Amazon today!
Head here for my review of Three Bloody Pieces (Caitlyn #1) and don’t forget to check out the other stops on this blog tour (see the poster below) for more reviews and other fantastic content!
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