Review: Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell

Description (from publisher):

‘A rich tale of power and forbidden love revolving around a young medieval queen.

In 1002, fifteen-year-old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King Athelred of England, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her and a bewitching rival who covets her crown, Emma must defend herself against her enemies and secure her status as queen by bearing a son.

Determined to outmaneuver her adversaries, Emma forges alliances with influential men at court and wins the affection of the English people. But her growing love for a man who is not her husband and the imminent threat of a Viking invasion jeopardize both her crown and her life.

Based on real events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Shadow on the Crown introduces readers to a fascinating, overlooked period of history and an unforgettable heroine whose quest to find her place in the world will resonate with modern readers.’

My thoughts:

My thoughts are mixed on this one. I enjoyed reading about something new and branching out and reading a book in a different time period than I am used to. However, there were some frustrations with this one. I had a really, really hard time keeping up and understanding the names used in this book. There were old English words that I had no idea what they were and if it wasn’t for the glossary provided, I would have been completely lost. I do recommend that you bookmark or highlight or do something with the glossary as you will be using it quite frequently at the beginning. Towards the end, I could keep up with who was who and what the words meant, but at first it was very overwhelming.

Emma of Normandy is someone who is new to me. I normally don’t go back that far in my historical fiction reading and it was nice to try something new. It was foreign to me and took some getting used to, but I kind of enjoyed it. At least this book isn’t about the Tudors or some other topic that is overused. It was a fresh approach to a new historical character and I really enjoyed that part of this novel. Emma’s character at times got on my nerves a little because she has no backbone for the first part of this story, however, she does come into her own as the story goes along and by the end she has grown on me. The abusive husband angle of this story was a little hard for me to wrap myself around. I normally don’t like to read about these types of situations, but to be honest, that’s how women were treated back then and I’m glad the author stayed true to accuracy.

Overall, this was a fun and engaging read. At times I felt it was a little long in places and could have been shortened. I learned in the author’s note at the end, that this apparently is the first book in a trilogy and the ending leaves a hint of the future. I can’t wait to see what happens next to Emma and her mean husband, King Athelred and what history has in store for them. A good read if you’re looking for something fresh and a little something different. Just be prepared to be flipping back and forth to the glossary as it is something I found that I needed to keep referencing in order to get what was going on. Nevertheless, a good debut for a new historical fiction author and I can’t wait to read the next. 

Overall Rating: 3

Title:  Shadow on the Crown
Author:  Patricia Bracewell
Series: N/A
Publisher:  Viking Adult
Publication Date:  February 7, 2013
Pages:  432
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

8 thoughts on “Review: Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell

  1. You summed up my thoughts exactly! I've always been fascinated by Queen Emma, unfortunately there are not many books about her, so I was quite pleased to see this one, and although it is a trilogy, the second one is supposed to be published in the fall of this year! The only thing that irritated me a bit was the whole thing about Aethelstan seeing his brother's ghost, I think that was mentioned a bit too much for my taste.If you want to read more on Queen Emma, I highly recommend Forever Queen by Helen Hollick, although that book may be a spoiler for this series as it is about Emma's whole life and not just one part. I think I've read that book about 3 times now!


  2. Yeah I can understand the ghost thing. It was a little excessive. But besides that I think I will pick up the next one in the series when it is released. What about you?Kimberlee


  3. Thanks for the lovely compliment. I normally don't read this far back with my historical fiction, but I decided to branch out and try it and while it needs some work it was overall a good read. I understand if this one isn't for you. Not every book is meant to be read by every person.Kimberlee


  4. Nice review, Kimberlee. I enjoyed this novel, but having read a few books featuring Emma I'm already familiar with her history as well as the terminology of the time period. I notice another commenter has mentioned The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick. I also recommend that one should you wish to learn more about Emma. It is very detailed, but I found the history quite fascinating. The follow-up novel, I Am the Chosen King, which features Emma but is focused on Harold Goodwinson, is one of my all-time favourite works of historical fiction.


  5. I definitely will have to check out that book then. I know nothing about Emma and I can see she is a great historical character and that I will be wanting to learn more about her. Thanks for the recommendations. Kimberlee


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