The Locksmith’s Daughter

Written by Karen Brooks
Review by Kristen McQuinn

Mallory Bright, the titular locksmith’s daughter, is trying to restore her reputation, which she ruined by running away with a man who turned out to be abusive. Now, she is back with her parents, trying to right her wrongs. Her father, meanwhile, has arranged for his old friend, none other than Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, to hire her, ostensibly as companion to his own daughter. However, when Walsingham sees Mallory’s skill at picking locks, he begins training her as one of his own spies, knowing that Mallory can get into places as a woman that are barred even to the greatest spy in Her Majesty’s service. But Mallory soon learns that being a spy, serving Queen and country, and following her heart are not all one and the same thing, when secrets and espionage threaten people she loves, and she sees the full human impact of her intrigues.

Perhaps you might be groaning at the thought of another novel set in Tudor England, but rest assured, you would be wrong to do so. This book is not set in the courts or focused on the nobility, nor is Mallory a noblewoman. At times, she may be rather too progressive for a genuine Renaissance woman, but overall, she is a good addition to the strong, independent women canon. Brooks especially does a great job capturing the disdain the various religious sects felt toward one another; it is appalling to see just how horrific people can be to each other. However, the major plot twist feels unnecessarily contrived and melodramatic, which mars what is otherwise excellent writing. If you enjoy a fast-paced and intricate plot and don’t mind some brutal torture or domestic abuse on the page, this story should please you. If you want your plots to be a little more believable or with less violence, you may want to reconsider.