Thursday, April 1, 2010

Review: A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin

Adelia is back in this thrilling fourth installment of the Mistress of the Art of Death series.

In 1176, King Henry II sends his daughter Joanna to Palermo to marry his cousin, the king of Sicily. Henry chooses Adelia Aguilar, his Mistress of the Art of Death, to travel with the princess and safeguard her health. But when people in the wedding procession are murdered, Adelia and Rowley must discover the killer's identity . . . and whether he is stalking the princess or Adelia herself.

When I was contacted to give a review of this book, I was excited because I really enjoy historical fiction.  This time period is one I don't typically read about, but was eager to give it a try.  Medieval fiction writing and the language used is different, obviously, than what is used in more recent historical fiction.  Along with the language, the names are also uncommon, for example:  Ulf, Mansur, Boggart, and Scarry were some of the characters.  Also, there were numerous titles used for characters: Bishop, King, Queen, Princess, Lords, Ladies, pilgrims, peasants, and their place in the world was important to keep track of.  It helped me to keep a post-it note with names and titles and their jobs along the procession in order to keep everyone straight.
The story focuses on Adelia, who had to leave her daughter behind with the Queen, while she accompanies the Queen's daughter, Princess Joanna, on her journey to marry the King of Sicily.  At this time the princess is only 10 and is to be married to a King, which is hard to grasp in today's world, but was very common during this time period.  Adelia travels along with numerous others in the procession and along the journey there are numerous murders taking place.  The question is whether Adelia is in danger or the princess.  To find the answer, you will have to read the book!
Even though there are odd things happening, there were definately points in the story that were humerous and I appreciated that.  This is the 4th in the series of A MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH, but even though I hadn't read the other three, I didn't have too much trouble keeping track of all the characters or knowing what was going on. 
I did become interested in the characters in the story and was trying to figure out who the "bad guys" were.  Agan, even though I wasn't used to this style of writing, I easily became wrapped up in the storyline.  The writer uses chapters, but also has three divisions to break up the story which I liked.  I also appreciated the author's notes at the end of the book.  She explains that Princess Joanna's journey is a true historical event as well as explained numerous other historical figures and facts from that time period. It is obvious the author did her research before writing this novel.
Even though this was a story about murders, I found it enjoyable to read.  I began to care about many of the characters and was surprised on many occasions as well as laughed.  I am sure this will be another hit to those who follow the MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH series.  I give this 3 out of 5 stars.  This book is available for purchase starting today.  If you would like to learn more about Ariana Franklin please visit her website
Thanks to Putnam, a member of Penguin Group for sending me an ARC of this book.  This review is my honest opinion only and was only compensated with a book for this review. 

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