Blood and Ink
by D.K. Marley
Publication Date: March 28, 2018
The White Rabbit Publishing
ebook, Paperback, and Audible; 438 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
In the tradition of “The Marlowe Papers” by Ros Barber, the debut historical fiction novel “Blood and Ink” tells the story of Christopher “Kit” Marlowe, the dark and brooding playwright of Queen Elizabeth’s court. Marlowe sells his soul to gain the one thing he desires: to see his name immortalized.
Inspired at an early age on the banks of the Stour River, his passion for a goose quill and ink thrusts him into the labyrinth of England’s underworld – a secret spy ring created by the Queen’s spymaster, Sir Frances Walsingham.
Kit suffers the whips and scorns of time as he witnesses the massacre of Paris, the hypocrisy of the church, the rejection from his ‘dark lady,’ the theft of his identity as a playwright, and wrenching loss breathing life into many of his unforgettable characters.
As he sinks further into the clutches of Walsingham, a masque is written by his own hand to save his life from shadowing betrayers, from the Queen’s own Star Chamber, and from the Jesuit assassins of Rome, thus sending him into exile and allowing an unknown actor from Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare, to step into his shoes.
And so begins the lie; and yet, what will a man not do to regain his name?
“DK Marley’s exhaustively researched and spryly written novel Blood and Ink follows in the tradition of such minor-key classics as Anthony Burgess’ A Dead Man in Deptford, and the central premise of Marley’s book—that Marlowe only faked his death in 1593 in order to escape the attentions of the Privy Council—will be familiar to followers of the Shakespearean authorship question (Shakespeare, needless to say, features prominently here). Marley has sifted through a phenomenal amount of research, but along the way she hasn’t forgotten to tell a first-rate and gripping story, adorned in many places by some very pretty turns of phrase. We may never have a final resolution to the tangled questions Marley raises, but as long as we get such strong and enjoyable novels as this one out of the tangle, we shouldn’t complain.” -Historical Novel Society
I did not know anything about Marlowe his connection with Shakespeare, or much about this time period at all when I picked up this novel. I think it really helped me to connect with the story even more, as every little detail was brand new information to me.
Kit has his innocence ripped away from him at a young age, as his parents sell him to the Queen’s spymaster at the tender age of 8. He wants to become a playwright and his angel guides his education, but even his angel can’t shield him from the horrors he sees in Paris with the Catholic Church burning Protestants at the stake. Then, he is brought into the spy ring of Walsingham and is forced to commit acts that he never believed he would. He doesn’t let go of his dream of becoming the Queen’s playwright, keeping it in the back of his mind as he works for Walsingham.
William Shakespeare wanted to become an actor, and then he was tied down by a 27-year-old wife with a child on the way at only 18 years old. He doesn’t know if he will be able to succeed in his dreams, but he is determined not to give up. He also wants to be there for his son.
The world-building in this novel was incredible, yet natural. It was mostly built through dialogue, but many of the scenes did include a description of the surroundings. This drew me into the story, and I constantly wanted to learn more about Kit and his dysfunctional world. Each and every character had a role in the story, whether it be Kit’s little sister that he left behind when he was sold or the little boy that he immediately despised after playing a couple rounds of a game. It is important to remember the small details in order to pick up on hints spread throughout the book. Even though I usually have a problem remembering non-main characters, I surprised myself by being able to remember almost every character that I encountered.
There was a lot of character development in this story as both Shakespeare and Marlowe transform from young boys into men with families, dreams, and fears. I won’t spoil too much, but it was definitely worth the read.
Also, even though I didn’t know much about this time period, I could tell that this book was well-researched. Everything seemed to match up with what little I had learned in history class about England of the 1500s, and it just seemed to make sense. Even though it is fiction, the characters seemed real.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new historical fiction novel with intense Shakespearean themes and excellent worldbuilding.
I received an advance copy of this novel and this is my voluntary review.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
About the Author
D. K. Marley is a historical fiction writer specializing in Shakespearean themes. Her grandmother, an English Literature teacher, gave her a volume of Shakespeare’s plays when she was eleven, inspiring DK to delve further into the rich Elizabethan language. Eleven years ago she began the research leading to the publication of her first novel “Blood and Ink,” an epic tale of lost dreams, spurned love, jealousy and deception in Tudor England as the two men, William Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, fight for one name and the famous works now known as the Shakespeare Folio. She is an avid Shakespearean / Marlowan, a member of the Marlowe Society, the Shakespeare Fellowship and a signer of the Declaration of Intent for the Shakespeare Authorship Debate. She has traveled to England three times for intensive research and debate workshops, and is a graduate of the intense training workshop “The Writer’s Retreat Workshop” founded by Gary Provost and hosted by Jason Sitzes. She lives in Georgia with her husband and a Scottish Terriers named Maggie and Buster.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, July 16
Interview at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, July 17
Review at Oh, October
Wednesday, July 18
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Thursday, July 19
Review at Bri’s Book Nook
Monday, July 23
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Tuesday, July 24
Interview at What Cathy Read Next
Wednesday, July 25
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit
During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 copies of Blood and Ink by D.K. Marley! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.
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