The Devil’s Chalice

Written by D. K. Wilson
Review by Martha Hoffman

In 1549 London, goldsmith Thomas Treviot is asked to look into the circumstances of a young man accused of attempted murder. At the same time, Treviot’s son has left school at Cambridge to join up with the common people in a protest at Norwich. Political unrest sweeps the country as peasants challenge landholders and leading nobles jockey for position to influence the young King Edward. Religious changes begun under Henry VIII and intensified in the new regime create uncertainty, changing the very landscape of the countryside and opening up space for magicians to prey. Treviot must get to the bottom of mysteries and conspiracies large and small, reaching from the heart of his own household to international concerns.

The Devil’s Chalice is third in a series in which Treviot gets drawn into actual unsolved mysteries in Tudor England. While fictional characters carry the heart of the novel, using real crimes and documents offers a fascinating opportunity for those who like their historical fiction on the factual side. At the same time, readers who don’t already know a bit about the issues and personalities may find themselves a bit lost in differentiating between various nobles and their interests and networks. In addition, period vocabulary and phrasing often come across as self-conscious and quaint rather than creating the desired atmosphere.