Book Review: Bright Shadow by Jan Middleton

Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Austin Macauley Publishers
Pub date: 28 February 2022

This is the story of Katherine Plantagenet, self-proclaimed “daughter, sister and aunt of kings” who endures extraordinarily traumatic reversals of fortune, as her life swings through wealth and adversity.  A glittering future as an English princess is swept away by the untimely death of her father, Edward IV, and the usurpation of her brother Edward V’s throne. Surrounded by murderous intrigue, conspiracy and ambition, Katherine and her sisters fear what lies in store … The pragmatic marriage of the eldest, Bessy, to the victor of Bosworth, Henry Tudor, brings an uneasy peace to Katherine’s young life but the shadows of suspicion and rebellion continue to swirl around her.   Katherine witnesses first hand the events that plague her brother-in-law’s reign. As a political expedient, she is given in marriage to William Courtenay, heir to the Earl of Devon, but Henry Tudor’s paranoia soon falls upon her beloved young husband who is imprisoned in the Tower. An intelligent and resilient woman, in a world where men hold all the power, Katherine fights her way alone through a tense decade that ends in personal tragedy. With a vow of celibacy as her chosen route of self-preservation, Katherine continues to tread a wary path of survival … until the charming Benedict Haute enters her life. However, the failure of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon to produce a living son changes the way any Plantagenet is viewed by the king; Katherine knows her royal blood could cause trouble for her family.

With an interest in the Plantagenets and the Wars of the Roses I was very interested in reading about it from an alternative viewpoint.
Katherine was sister to Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, niece to Richard III and aunt to Henry VIII. With relatives such as those Katherine had a front row seat to the Wars of the Roses and the beginning of Henry VIII’s great matter.

I’m in awe of how Jan Middleton has written this novel. Each chapter starts with a quote from contemporary sources showing Jan has done her research. I love how Jan ensures the different view points of those in the story are covered whilst keeping Katherine as the central character. I especially enjoyed Katherine as a young princess, smart and feisty she made me laugh more than once.

The novel covers all the usual characters you’d expect with Jan’s own take of them as well as theories on the Princes in the Tower. You don’t have to agree with the theory to thoroughly enjoy this story. We see alot of historical fiction from the point of view of one of the main characters such as Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn but the view of Katherine was such a refreshing change.

The beautiful descriptives of the buildings, gowns and jewels take you back in time, you can see the court as Jan describes. This was honestly a joy to read.

I really hope Jan has more work in progress as I would love read it. This book will stay with me and will be one I’ll read again in the future, it has quickly become one of my favourite novels. You can buy Bright Shadow at your usual book stores.

If you would like to know more about Jan you can find her on her Website or on Twitter

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