Bestselling author and historian Nicola Cornick investigates the untold story of Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen and her connection to Ashdown House in Oxfordshire
On the eve of her death Elizabeth Stuart hands her faithful cavalier William Craven an ancient pearl with magical properties to be kept safe for her rightful heir. Craven, distraught with grief, builds Ashdown Estate in Elizabeth's memory and places the pearl at the centre.
Notorious Regency courtesan Lavinia Flyte is brought to Ashdown House with her protector, Lord Evershot, who is intent on uncovering the Winter Queen's treasures. Evershot's greedy pillage of the ancient house will unleash a dark power which has lain dormant for a hundred and fifty years.
Holly Ansell's brother has gone missing. As Holly retraces his footsteps, she discovers that her brother was researching the mystery of Elizabeth Stuart and her alleged affair with William Craven. A battered mirror and the diary of a Regency courtesan are the only clues she has, but Holly is determined to discover the truth: Where is the fabled pearl that Elizabeth gave to William Craven? What happened to Lavinia Flyte? And who is the Winter Queen's rightful heir?
Welcome to the Blog Tour for House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick, published in paperback original and ebook by Mira on 5 November 2015.
Once more, I've stepped out my comfort zone and taken the plunge into historical fiction, and this time I've stepped even further as House of Shadows is a story of majesty and royalty, awash with Kings and Queens and courtiers and finery!
I'll admit that one of the reasons that made me accept this Blog Tour was the time-slip element of the novel, one of my favourite ways of telling a story, and Nicola Cornick has done it incredibly well. Funnily enough though, the present day part of the story was not my favourite part at all, so maybe I'm really becoming a history convert??
The author has taken real life characters and events and woven through her imagined happenings to create a story that is very entertaining, and for me; quite enlightening. Nicola Cornick makes her reader feel quite at home whether you are in the 1600s, the 1800s or in modern times.
There is a mystery at the heart of this novel. The ancient pearl and the battered mirror and the alleged magical powers link the three threads firmly together, as does the beautiful splendour of the setting of Ashdown House.
Alongside the supernatural and magic and history and suspense, there are also three love stories, beginning with Elizabeth and ending with Holly.
It is obvious from the writing that Nicola Cornick has spent many many hours researching her story. Ashdown House really exists and is pictured on the cover. The author volunteers there for the National Trust and for me, she made the house the absolute star of the novel.
I did enjoy this novel, the time slip element kept me interested. I liked the three time periods, the three stories and three heroines, and I particularly loved the way that the author seamlessly weaves them together.
Nicola Cornick studied history at the University of London and has a Masters degree in public history from Ruskin College Oxford.
She is a history consultant for TV and radio and gives talks on local history and creative writing.
House of Shadows was inspired by Nicola's research into the National Trust's Ashdown House in Oxfordshire where she has been a volunteer guide and historian for the last fourteen years.
She lives in Oxfordshire
For more information, visit her website www.nicolacornick.co.uk
Follow her on Twitter @NicolaCornick