I’m a massive Shakespeare nerd, or at least I used to be as a teenager, always with my trusty tome of his complete works close by. (I still have it, too!) Over the years, I had heard rumours questioning the authorship of those works, so I was really intrigued to read about Sue Taylor-Davidson’s take on them in her novel, To Pluck a Crow, Book One: The Hands Behind Shakespeare’s Pen.
In To Pluck a Crow, Taylor-Davison takes us on a journey of two narratives. The first is about siblings Mary and Philip Sidney, whose close bond and love for the written word has them collaborating on pieces even after Mary is married to the kind and doting Henry Herbert, second Earl of Pembroke. Intrigues of Elizabethan court also play a strong role in their family’s life.
The second storyline is in present time, where Canadian Sarah Churchill arrives in England to gather research for her thesis about the authorship of Shakespeare’s work. She is soon assisted by the shy, handsome Janek Wieczorek, who shares an equal enthusiasm for the subject, much to the chagrin of his glamorous girlfriend, Syb. But not everyone is apathetic, because after Sarah is physically attacked and robbed of her research laptop, she and Janek soon discover they are being followed. Someone does not want the truth about Shakespeare to be revealed.
I’ve always had a fascination for Elizabethan times, so that was one draw for me. But Taylor-Davidson masterfully brings us right there. I feel like I am in every room, eavesdropping on the conversations and taking in the atmosphere. It’s also obvious that Taylor-Davison knows her subject matter, too, which gives the story an authenticity all of its own. The interactions between Sarah and Janek are charming, and their own verve for their investigation is contagious. I want to be searching old castles with them!
I am very glad I read this book now when I know the second book, To Pluck a Crow: Death Stalks the House of Herbert, will be released by Renaissance in a few weeks. The mystery-crafting is like a slow-burn, and it kept making me turn the pages until I read the last one and was like, “WHAT? GIMME SECOND BOOK!”
If you’re looking for a historical-and-current mystery with delightful characters to whisk you away, I highly recommend this series. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book.
You can buy To Pluck a Crow: The Hands Behind Shakespeare’s Pen and pre-order To Pluck a Crow: Death Stalks the House of Herbert from Renaissance’s bookshop!
Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to pummel that curve!
She’s also the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world.