The Stolen Queen

Written by Lisa Hilton
Review by jay Dixon

This novel, about Isabelle of Angoulême, King John’s second wife, is very well written, and Lisa Hilton has obviously done a lot of research into the period. But I was confused by it.

It is billed as historical fiction, yet Hilton’s thesis is that Isabella was initiated into the pagan religion and raped by the Horned Man, who turns out to be her father through an adulterous affair with her mother. Also, according to Hilton, John is impotent, and all five of Isabelle’s children were fathered by her half-brother Pierre of Joigny.

And then Hilton has Isabelle betrothed to Hal, son of Hugh de Lusignan, as a child and marrying him after John has died. But historically she married the son of the man she had been betrothed to. Another historical re-writing is that when Isabelle is a prisoner at Corfe Castle, her gaoler is Terric the Teuton, but historically he was her bodyguard as she travelled round southern England during the civil war between John and the barons.

So, is the whole thing meant to be fantasy? In which case why call it historical fiction and not historical fantasy?

Or are we meant to believe Hilton’s version of events? There is no historical note to help us, so all I can say is if you like historical fantasy you may enjoy this novel. Personally, I found it very disappointing.