In the Shadow of Lions
In the Shadow of Lions is the first in a planned trilogy from author Ginger Garrett. The story is divided amongst the perspectives of three women: Bridget, a successful but cruel New York City editor dying in her hospital bed; Anne Boleyn, second queen of Henry VIII; and Rose, a servant in the household of Sir Thomas More.
A being appears to Bridget whom she believes is Death, but instead the being, known as the Scribe, offers her a second chance. The Scribe produces a laptop and begins to dictate a story to her. The book alternates between the present-day story of Bridget and the Scribe and the two stories set in the Tudor era. This is a fine premise, but unfortunately instead of adding to the plot, the scenes featuring Bridget are awkward and serve as a distraction because of the unconvincing dialog and the sporadic nature in which they appear.
Two of the more successful aspects of the novel are the ways in which Garrett portrays Thomas More as a very complex, conflicted man, and her depiction of his relationship with Rose. The religious fervor sweeping across Europe at the time is also described well, giving one perspective on the growing fear among the clergy of bringing the word of God to the people in their own language. Garrett discusses how Anne Boleyn flirted with the Hutchins book, the English translation of the New Testament, and shows Anne as curious but also slightly afraid of the book which she puts off reading until the end.
An unsatisfying ending leaves too many questions unanswered. The theme that guardian angels influence people’s lives is not particularly clear until the end. Hopefully the series will become stronger. When Garrett is writing about the past, her voice is strong and it works; the subplot with the Scribe, though, does not.