Title: Forest of Secrets
Author: Fiona Buckley
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
Copyright: May 1, 2021
Format: E-Book, 240 Pages
Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Women’s Historical Fiction
Ursula travels deep into the New Forest to investigate rumours of a plot to overthrow Queen Elizabeth in this gripping Tudor mystery.
May, 1586. Ursula and her retinue return home from a lengthy trip to discover she has an unexpected visitor. Etheldreda Hope is a simple countrywoman who has come to Ursula with disturbing tales of strange goings-on in her rural village. Fearing that Etheldreda’s reports of mysterious forest rites indicate a possible conspiracy to overthrow Queen Elizabeth in favour of her cousin, Mary Stuart, the queen’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, orders Ursula to travel to Etheldreda’s home to find out what’s really going on.
On reaching Chenston village, deep in the New Forest, Ursula discovers an isolated, suspicious community; the locals deeply in thrall to the old pagan traditions and beliefs. But are these ancient customs harmless – or are they part of a genuine conspiracy against the queen? And, if so, who is behind it?
It’s not until the night of Halloween that Ursula will discover the shocking truth.
Set in 1586, Forest of Secrets is book 19 in the Ursula Blanchard mystery series. After returning home from a journey, Ursula is approached by Etheldreda Hope, a woman dressed in simple clothing. When Etheldreda regales Ursula with strange tales coming from her village of Chenston, she does not know what to make of it. With whispers about Mary, Queen of Scots, Sir Francis Walsingham sends Ursula to Chenston in order to investigate the village. While there, she finds a group of people who still follow the old pagan ways. Do these people pose a threat to Queen Elizabeth? Only time will tell.
This was my first time reading a book by Fiona Buckley. I thoroughly enjoyed this masterfully woven narrative that kept me on the edge of my seat. In Ursula Blanchard, we find a clever woman who is adept at what she does. The plot was good and the pacing was fast. The tone was one of mystery and foreboding. Finally, the characters and dialogue were also well written. This book gripped me from the beginning and kept me engaged to the very end.
Originally featured on the History Novel Society website.