Saturday, August 30

Book Review: Dark Aemilia by Sally O'Reilly

Author: Sally O'Reilly
Title: Dark Aemilia
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Drama, and Fantasy
Pages: 448
First Published: May 2014
Where I Got It: On my shelf (Given to me by the author/publisher for my honest and unbiased opinion)

"The daughter of a Venetian musician, Aemilia Bassano came of age in Queen Elizabeth’s royal court. The Queen’s favorite, she develops a love of poetry and learning, maturing into a young woman known not only for her beauty but also her sharp mind and quick tongue. Aemilia becomes the mistress of Lord Hunsdon, but her position is precarious. Then she crosses paths with an impetuous playwright named William Shakespeare and begins an impassioned but ill-fated affair.

A decade later, the Queen is dead, and Aemilia Bassano is now Aemilia Lanyer, fallen from favor and married to a fool. Like the rest of London, she fears the plague. And when her young son Henry takes ill, Aemilia resolves to do anything to save him, even if it means seeking help from her estranged lover, Will—or worse, making a pact with the Devil himself."

Like earlier stated, I was given this book for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Ohhhhh! I totally did not expect the fantasy intertwined in the story - totally took me by surprise! It's not over the top, which I was worried about when the first "supernatural" thing occurred. I was rather surprised when it appeared! The way that the author presents these supernatural elements makes it seem realistic and questionable. The story is told through Aemilia's POV and she sees/talks to these beings. The way its told makes you wonder if it really exists or if Aemilia is imagining it. Honestly....I think she was imagining it due to grief, stress, and anger. The "fantasy" aspect doesn't really make a huge appearance until about halfway through when things escalate. Fantastic!

Poor Aemilia. :/ She had a hell of a time after she meets William Shakespeare. Yes, it is love of a sorts, but it comes back and bites her in the ass. It brings up the question: is love really worth it? This question is battled throughout the book. Just...sighs...I feel so bad for her. William was a butt-cheek at one point and that made me upset. It had to happen, because this is not a Historical Romance by any means, so yeah....and for those that know of Aemilia and/or Willie then yeah.....:(

The beginning was a wee bit slow, but after the first couple of chapters I could NOT put this down. I just really had to know what was happening next. There is some crudeness here and there, which fits the time period well. A few people (I had read some other reviews - like I normally do) really were "offended" and they thought it was "unnecessary", but it honestly fit. Plus, it was not everywhere only in certain moments that seemed like a time Aemilia would really think, say, and feel that way, so it worked. 

Honestly...I could ramble on about this book for a bit, so I shall end it now.

In the end, this was a book worthwhile to read, especially if one loves the time period. It was an interesting look on who could have been William's "dark lady". The author did a good job bringing the world and the people to life. The beginning was a wee bit slow, but it was totally worth it. I shall stamp this with 4 stars. 

Favorite Character(s): Aemilia, William (even though he was a poopstain at one point), Henry (even though he is a brat sometimes), and Hunsdon.
Not-so Favorite Character(s): Alfonso and Tom (I don't know why, but he irked me)