Sacrilege by SJ Parris

August 23, 2013

sacrilege Plot summary (from the publisher): In the pursuit of power, nothing is sacred…

Summer, 1584. The Protestant Prince William of Orange has been assassinated by a fanatical Catholic, and there are whispers that Queen Elizabeth will be next. Fear haunts the streets of London, and plague is driving many citizens away.
Giordano Bruno, radical philosopher and spy, chooses to remain, only to find that someone is following him through the city. Confronting his stalker, he realizes it is the woman he once loved – she is on the run, having been accused of murder.

Bruno travels to Canterbury to help clear her name, and also on behalf of Sir Francis Walsingham. The Queen’s spymaster has long suspected Catholic influence in the ancient centre of pilgrimage, and instructs Bruno to work to expose any enemy plots.

As Bruno begins his hunt for the real killer, he is drawn into the heart of a sinister conspiracy hiding in the shadow of England’s holiest shrine…

Warning: Spoilers below!

Liked:

  • The protagonist, Bruno, was likable enough. He was resourceful and intelligent, yet wasn’t set up as a super-spy or anything like that. I wouldn’t mind reading more books from the series.
  • Despite this being the third book of a series, it was the first one I read — and it did just fine as a standalone. There were enough references to past events to keep returning readers satisfied, but not so many that newcomers would be overwhelmed. The author strikes a good balance here.

Disliked:

  • There were a lot of slow, boring parts that took me a while to slog through. In fact, it took me several months to finish the book even though it’s not overly long. There just wasn’t enough suspense to keep me turning the pages.
  • I hated the love story, but can’t tell if it was because it felt out of place here or because I didn’t have enough background info about Bruno and Sophia (a former flame). Regardless, that part of the tale simply didn’t grab me at all.
  • The book description led me to believe that the story would have more of a focus on Thomas a Beckett, but that wasn’t the case. The former archbishop of Canterbury was mentioned a few times on the pages (including a few too many details about his brutal murder), but not nearly to the degree that I was hoping/expecting.
  • The one major twist in the plot came far too late in the game to make the story entertaining.

Rating:

I’m not really in the best position to review Sacrilege since I haven’t even read the first two books of the series, so just bear in mind that my rating is based on this particular work as a standalone. While the novel had a good protagonist and some interesting moments, it wasn’t as fun or engrossing as it could have been. I give it 2 stars out of 5.

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