Thursday, 5 March 2015

Dark Aemelia: A Tale of Shakespeare's Dark Lady by Sally O'Reilly

Historical fiction and magical realism are kind of my jam. So, a few months ago when I stumbled across Dark Aemelia: A Tale of Shakespeare's Dark Lady by Sally O'Reilly, with it's mix of magic and history I knew I had to add it my reading list immediately.

The story follows Aemilia Bassano, one of the first woman poets, who and grew up in Queen Elizabeth I's court surrounded by the Queen and her ladies. After becoming the mistress to the Queen's Cousin, Aemeilia has a life of comfort and ease. That is until she meets a dashing and passionate playwrite by the name of William Shakespeare. Aemilia's life is turned upside down when she finds herself pregnant and is married off to a foolish man, who although loves her is a gambler and spends most of their money before paying their rent. When the plague strikes London, Aemilia will do whatever it takes to stop her precious son succoming to the disease, including conjuring the darkest of spirits for help.

What I loved about this book is that Aemilia is as sassy as they come. She may not have the same rights as men but she sure as hell has a tongue as sharp as any, which was half the fun of reading this novel. The other half? It's dark and a little bit sexy too (not quite erotic as one of the descriptions on the back gave it, it sure ain't 50 Shades...) which makes this book sinfully good.

Sally O'Reilly has captured the essence of the time well, through her descriptions of London and Aemilia's narration the fear of death and disease during the second half of the book was brought to life vividly. O'Reilly sets a nice pace taking us through Aemilia's early years as mistress, to lover of the Bard and then mother and frustrated wife, it was satisfying to watch her Aemilia progress and yet stay true to character.

For anyone looking to dabble in the dark side of historical fiction I thoroughly recommend picking up a copy of Dark Aemilia.


  1. I looked up Aemilia -
    I do not care for the erotic scenes but this sound like an interesting read.

    1. I certainly wouldn't label it as 'erotic fiction' as they have. It's not 50 shades.... but if you are into historical fiction then I'd recommend it!


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