Hello everybody and welcome to today’s blog tour review of Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham. As a fan of historical fiction, I was keen to dive into this particular book! I was intrigued by the mystery alluded to in the synopsis, but I also was interested in its literary ties as it features William Shakespeare and the theatre in general. I loved performing arts in school, so the culmination of all these elements excited me!
not only am I sharing my review with you today, but for UK-based readers, there is a link below to a giveaway in which you could win a paperback copy of the book for yourself! Read on to find out more!
As always, before I jump into sharing my thoughts on the book, I like to say a massive thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, and the author Penny for providing me with a review copy. All of the opinions stated in this post are honest and my own!
Publication Date: 1 Jun 2022
The Theatre – London, 1592
When a player is murdered, suspicion falls on the wardrobe mistress, Magdalen Bisset, because everyone knows poison is a woman’s weapon. The scandal-pamphlets vilify her. The coroner is convinced of her guilt.
Magdalen is innocent, although few are willing to help her prove it. Her much-loved grandmother is too old and sick. Will Shakespeare is benignly detached, and her friend Christopher Marlowe is wholly unreliable. Only one man offers his assistance, but dare she trust him when nothing about him rings true?
With just two weeks until the inquest, Magdalen ignores anonymous threats to ‘leave it be’, and delves into the dangerous underworld of a city seething with religious and racial tension. As time runs out, she must risk everything in her search for the true killer – for all other roads lead to the gallows.
Twelve Nights brings together a lot of elements I enjoy; a mystery, an influence of literature, and the theatre. Whilst I confess that I have never had much love or understanding of William Shakespeare’s literary works (sorry, the language is just gibberish to me), I am interested in his history. I have studied a few bits and pieces in school, but I have only had a very perfunctory education about him.
From the author’s note at the end of the book, this may be in part because very little is known of him. This book gave a nice introduction to who he was as a person, professionally and personally, in an interesting fictional story. The book also touches on other interesting elements of the history of the period. Religion plays a significant role in the society protagonist Magdalen lives in, and this shines through throughout the book. I don’t have much prior knowledge of religious history, and the religious views that were prominent in the period. However, this wasn’t necessary. It was incorporated into the narrative and explained within the story. It made an interesting backdrop to an already intriguing storyline.
The setting of this book is also interesting from the perspective of Magdalen and her position in society. Frankly, women in this period are treated horribly. You are the property of your father until you are married and you are expected to have children. That is it. Even attempting to have a life of your own or support yourself earns you disapproval from men and constant accusations of lewd behaviour.
I knew this was something that I would have strong feelings about… but it was something I wanted to have strong feelings about if you know what I mean? I wanted to rage at the treatment of this poor woman, and many other women in this story, and I did. Twelve Nights has been a great eye-opener into how much times have (thankfully) changed. This story is also a gateway to understanding what it is like to be a woman in the 16th century. It is one thing to know, but quite another to experience the vitriol and harassment unjustly through the eyes of our protagonist.
I enjoyed Magdalen as a character. She is brave and perhaps a little foolhardy, but she stands up to prejudice and discrimination where she sees it and takes a stand when it counts – for herself. She has grown up a very independent woman, and she is a rarity in this society. I constantly admired her for her ability to fight against society’s expectations of her.
I enjoyed the characterisation of more than just the protagonist in this book. In particular, I think the author did very well to portray the struggles of caring for somebody with Alzheimer’s and dementia. There are a couple of characters in this book that deals with these conditions, and the representation that they are given in the book is fantastic. Having had a family member suffer from the condition, I think the portrayal was very well done.
I enjoyed the mystery that plays out across the pages of Twelve Nights. We are taken through a variety of twists and turns as Magdalen tries to get to the bottom of a murder she is accused of, but did not commit, all before her ‘inquest’ and inevitable conviction for the crime. The mystery took a turn I was not expecting, and I enjoyed this element of surprise at the 11th hour!
One small thing to add, but I recommend reading the author’s note at the end. Within that note, we learned that a lot of the characters in this book are based on real people, which I found interesting. It proves that the author really knows her stuff on the subject and has researched it thoroughly before incorporating the story into a fun fictional narrative.
I was born and raised in Yorkshire where my father inspired my love of history from an early age. He is a born story teller and would take us to the top of Iron Age hillforts, often as dusk was falling, and regale us with stirring tales of battles lost and won. Not surprisingly, I went on to study Classics at university, and still love spending my summers on archaeological digs. For me, there is nothing more thrilling than finding an artefact that has not seen the light of day for thousands of years. I find so much inspiration for my novels from archaeology.
I have had a variety of jobs over the years, including working for the British Forces newspaper in Germany, and at the BBC. When our family was little, the only available space for me to write was a small walk-in wardrobe. The children used to say, ‘oh, mum’s in the cupboard again’.
I have written four historical novels: The King’s Daughter explores the story of Aethelflaed, the Lady of the Mercians. The Saxon Wolves and the Saxon Plague are both set in fifth century AD, a time of enormous upheaval and uncertainty in Britain as the Romans departed and the Saxon era began. My latest is something a bit different. Twelve Nights is a crime thriller set in sixteenth century London, and features William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.
I now live with my husband in the Hampshire countryside. Like many others during the pandemic, we decided to try growing our own fruit and vegetables – with mixed results! We can only get better!
Social Media Links –
Facebook: Penny Ingham Author Page | Facebook
Instagram: Penny Ingham (@penny.ingham)
Website: Penny Ingham (wordpress.com)
Giveaway to Win a PB copy of Twelve Nights (Open to UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions -Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/ or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.