Blog Tour: The Embroidered Book – Kate Heartfield

*I received a free ARC of this book with thanks to the author, Voyager – Harper Collins UK, NetGalley and Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

Blurb: Brimming with romance, betrayal, and enchantment, The Embroidered Book reveals and reimagines a dazzling period of history as you have never seen it before.

‘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 deliberately didn’t look too much into the historical background of this story before or during reading, as I wanted to come to the characters as ‘fresh’ as possible, but even I (with my scanty, pop-culture knowledge of the French Revolution) couldn’t avoid knowing that poor Antoine’s fate would not be a happy one.

After finishing the book, I immediately set off to do the research I was lacking, and was amazed at the author’s skill in weaving the real people, places and events so deftly into her fantasy fabric. In fact, even while reading I found the magical elements of the book so well-thought out, so compelling, that I often forgot that this wasn’t actually how the world worked!

Here, Kate Heartfield presents an alternate European history, in which Habsburg daughters Charlotte and Antoine stumble upon the titular book of spells as children, but can only manage small enchantments as the working of magic calls for sacrifices of the body, of love and affection, of hopes and dreams and of treasures, and such resources are slim for the tightly-monitored young duchesses. We follow them as they are separated by political marriages – to France and to Naples – and both attempt to make the best of the positions they find themselves in, using all of the resources at their disposal: intelligence, social skills, appearance and, of course, magic. And with access to the hopes, loves and treasures of a Queen, they have more to sacrifice, for bigger stakes.

Charlotte is the stronger character of the two, and I found myself firmly rooting for her to overcome all obstacles and survive against all odds. Antoine is a gentler, more helpless soul, and while she does her best throughout, I simply ached with pity for her as she sacrificed over and over again in her desperation to do some good for her adopted country and win the hearts of its people. Either way, I was utterly hooked on both story threads, and the ways in which they intertwined across the distances.

Exploring the dynamics of female power, motherhood, sisterhood and conflicting loyalties to the personal and the political, The Embroidered Book is an intricately woven, magically realistic tale, ideal for readers of historical fiction looking for something on the fantastical side but which remains somehow true to its source nonetheless.

If only Antoine could find a love spell. A potion, a ribbon, a ring. With the right magic, she’d open Mama’s heart, and save her sister from marrying the beast of Naples.

– Kate Heartfield, The Embroidered Book

You can find more from Kate Heartfield at her website, or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.

The Embroidered Book is available right now on Amazon.

Don’t forget to stop by the other blogs on this tour (see the poster below for details) for more great content and reviews!

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