Monday 5 April 2021

The Drowned City by K.J. Maitland

The Drowned City has been one of my anticipated reads for 2021, and I'm delighted to say that it did not disappoint. What I didn't know until finishing, is that it is the first book in a new historical fiction series from K.J. Maitland and I'm really looking forward to reading the second book in the series. But first my review for book one.


It's England, 1606 and the men who had conspired to blow up parliament have been executed and a huge wave has destroyed a large part of Bristol. Lives are lost and tragedy ensues, but this is an opportunity for some. Paranoid King James who sees witchcraft everywhere wants answers and to know if it was an act of witchcraft or god, but who can he trust to find out these answers? Daniel Pursglove, suspected sorcerer and Catholic waits in prison for his fate, but is unexpectedly freed from by one of the Kings agents. Bristol is a suspected hotbed of Catholics and Daniel is believed to have the skills to go undercover and sniff them out and in particular a Jesuit (Roman Catholic order of priests) named Spero Pettingar. Travelling to Bristol, he soon finds himself in the heart of a dark Jesuit conspiracy. 

The Drowned City was a deeply atmospheric novel. The sense of time and place was impeccable, I could almost smell the stench lift up from the pages of the book. The dark, misty ruined Bristol was easy to imagine and each time I picked the book back up, I was instantly back in the year of 1606.

I had never heard of the tidal flood in Bristol, so it was engrossing learning about it through The Drowned City and the impact it had not just on the city, but the suspicions of people of that time.  K.J. Maitland excellently portrayed this, and how terrifyingly easy it was to condemn a neighbour of not having the 'correct faith'. I would not have liked to have lived around that time.

Although a slow paced plot, there was more than enough to intrigue and keep me reading. The characters were also impeccably drawn and I liked following the story with Daniel as our lead.

This is the first book I have read of K.J.Maitland's and it certainly won't be the last, I am eager to read the next book in this atmospheric, dark and mysterious series.

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