Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution is a tale of conspiracy, divided loyalties, calamity, and sacrifice in Bride Tree, a novel by author JP Robinson.
Together with this tumultuous period in France’s history, it was this novel’s striking cover that most captured my interest. It’s mysterious, layered, and lavish, with color that pops, and the cunning stare from the notorious Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, promises intrigue. It’s a promise the author delivers on in this historical thriller. Robinson has a clear talent for weaving an intricate plot, along with a bold flair for the dramatic.
I must say, though, that it’s one of the darkest and most gruesome books I’ve ever read to the end. It’s not that I never finish books that are on the darker or heavier side, and I have a fairly high tolerance for violence, especially in thrillers and war stories. But it takes more light to better offset the darkness for me, whether it’s an inspiring mission driving the storyline, relatable characters I’m rooting for, or something in that vein.
This tale affected me as a Shakespearean tragedy would. The majority of the cast didn’t quite come to feel like real people to me, beyond being characters in a drama. Villains and vixens rather dominate the novel, and although there are moments of justice and compassion, evil and twisted schemes take up the greater share of the story and control the overall tone. There’s gallantry in the key romance, but it doesn’t feel like an equal match, as the couple’s strength is mostly one-sided. I also found the novel’s ending to be unfortunate, as after such a heavy journey, the story cuts off in the middle of action with a cliffhanger.
Nevertheless, while it’s second in the Secrets of Versailles series, I didn’t feel lost as I read it. And aside from maybe a scene or two, this dense, intense novel kept my attention all the way through.