Thursday 4 November 2021

The Red Monarch by Bella Ellis BLOG TOUR @brontemysteries #TheRedMonarch #BrontëMysteries @HodderBooks #BookReview @Stevie_Coops


The Brontë sisters' first poetry collection has just been published, potentially marking an end to their careers as amateur detectors, when Anne receives a letter from her former pupil Lydia Robinson.

Lydia has eloped with a young actor, Harry Roxby, and following her disinheritance, the couple been living in poverty in London. Harry has become embroiled with a criminal gang and is in terrible danger after allegedly losing something very valuable that he was meant to deliver to their leader. The desperate and heavily pregnant Lydia has a week to return what her husband supposedly stole, or he will be killed. She knows there are few people who she can turn to in this time of need, but the sisters agree to help Lydia, beginning a race against time to save Harry's life.

In doing so, our intrepid sisters come face to face with a terrifying adversary whom even the toughest of the slum-dwellers are afraid of . . . The Red Monarch.

The Red Monarch by Bella Ellis is published by Hodder & Stoughton on 18 November 2021 and is the third in the Brontë Mysteries series. 

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour. 

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Rowan Coleman, and have devoured the two previous Brontë Mysteries, written by her under the name Bella Ellis. I've been looking forward to The Red Monarch for so long and I have not been disappointed in the least. In fact, I'd say that this one surpassed all of my expectations and is the best book from the series so far. 

The Brontë sisters have become very good at detecting, having solved two previous cases in their home county of Yorkshire. When Anne receives a letter from former pupil Lydia Robinson, now known as Mrs Roxby after eloping and moving to London, she is very disturbed by what she reads. 

Lydia is in London, she's pregnant and her her husband Harry is missing. Lydia has been told by members of the violent and very dangerous criminal gang who rule the streets of London that she has one week to return what Harry has stolen from them. Lydia has no idea what it is, or where it is. She's living a squalid room over the Adelphi theatre, far away from the comforts she was brought up in.

Anne, along with sisters Emily and Charlotte and accompanied by brother Branwell (who has his own personal interests in the Robinson family) decide that they must travel to London, to help Lydia. After misleading their father about their destination they set out for the city.

I was totally and utterly captivated by this story. Ellis has such skill with description of place and people. Her ability to bring to life the dirt and the smells of the huge city is outstanding, and her creation of character is just wonderful. 

There is no doubt however, that the stars of the story are the three sisters. Each one has their own individual personality, and whilst they are totally loyal to one another, they couldn't be more different and often bicker and disagree on their plan of action.

London is a dangerous place in Victorian times, especially for three spinsters from the wilds of Yorkshire. Despite their bravery and determination to reunite Lydia and Harry, they are faced with challenges that they could never have imagined. From the lowest in society, right to the very top, they are met with violence and danger and some dark and disturbing events along the way.  

What I found particularly interesting whilst reading this tale was the comparisons to social issues that are still around today. The poverty and terrible living conditions of the poor, the danger to women and young children from those who are determined to prey upon them and the utter greed and power displayed by those in the highest of places. It's convincing and adds such a depth to what is far more than a Victorian mystery story. 

I was on the edge of my seat towards the end of the story, as characters were exposed and double dealings were revealed. It's intricately detailed, full of vibrant and vividly created characters and has such heart. 

I loved The Red Monarch and am desperate to know what detections the sisters will attempt in the next book. 

Bella Ellis is the Brontë inspired pen name for the award winning, Sunday Times bestselling author Rowan Coleman. 

A Brontë devotee for most of her life, Rowan is the author of fourteen novels including The Memory Book , The Summer of Impossible Things and The Girl at the Window, as well as the co-author of Mirror, Mirror, the debut novel by actor and model Cara Delevingne. 

Bella Ellis lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and five children.

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