The Assassin’s Wife
Young Nan sees dead people – as well as those about to die, be murdered or burned at the stake. In England in 1460, it’s very dangerous to be a female who has visions, speaks with ghosts, and is too proud to keep quiet about it. Even as a child, Nan is haunted by the Sight she’s been given, through which she sees two young boys – sons of nobility, apparently – who are imprisoned and murdered, and she is determined she will find out who they are and save them.
Readers familiar with 15th-century British royal history will have a pretty good idea of the boys’ identity, and it all unrolls over time. But another vision Nan is given involves a very handsome, edgy, black-haired knight who ravishes her in her dreams – she’s also on the lookout for him. The story weaves in and out of Nan’s various and ever-changing fortunes as she leaves her village home for her own safety, ends up in London for a time working for a merchant-class family, and eventually rises to join the ranks of minor nobility, attending upon queens and kings. Her fortunetelling predilections are a constant threat to her peace and her life – and when she meets that black-haired knight at last, she discovers another dimension of secrecy and fear.
The plot is a little thin, although the characters and their dilemmas are interesting. I found Nan irritating at times – she seems so intelligent and yet is constantly being drawn into trouble against her better judgment when it wouldn’t take much to just say no or keep her mouth shut. The author’s attempts to replicate medieval diction and attitudes are sometimes strained, and the passage of time from one chapter to the next occasionally seems too abrupt. But overall it is an enjoyable, engaging story.