Title: Valley of Dry Bones (Medieval Mystery #7)
Author: Priscilla Royal
Genre: Fiction (Historical / Mystery)
Did I finish?: I didn't. In the end I just couldn't fully get into the story.
One-sentence summary: Medieval murder-mystery set at country convent.
Why did I get this book?: Medieval! Mystery! Prioress!
Do I like the cover?: Yes, although finding a good-sized image of it online was remarkably difficult! It wasn't posted on the author's website nor the publisher's!
First line from the book: The late afternoon heat settled heavily on Prioress Eleanor.
Review: On Royal, Sharon Kay Penman says: "Anyone who hasn't read Priscilla Royal's mysteries yet is in for a treat." I like treats and I hadn't read any of her books, so I decided to dig in one rainy afternoon. I had no problem getting into the novel at first even though I hadn't read the previous six books. The pace was slow but that felt appropriate given that life then was a little slower. Each chapter loosely followed a single character and so a good part of the book is devoted to simply setting the stage.
Even though this isn't a book laden with historical detail, I still felt a strong medieval flavor to the story. Small details about monastic life or courtly behavior appear in the narrative as well as references to real historic events. But one doesn't have to be familiar with medieval English history to enjoy the story; every historical reference is explained for the reader to understand the significance.
I made the mistake of reading the publisher's letter included with the review copy, which gave away a few plot elements I would have preferred to discover myself. Perhaps they were revealed in the sixth book but it felt a little anticlimactic.
In the end, the slow pace of the story just couldn't keep my interest and as I didn't have a relationship with any of the characters from the previous books, I had a hard time keeping everyone straight. I might go back and start the series and eventually return to this book because I did enjoy it for a while. But I realized it's been two weeks since I've come back to this one so I think it's time to move on.