Cover Image: Sister Queens, The

Sister Queens, The

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Member Reviews

I did not mesh well with this book. From the description, I should have absolutely loved this from start to finish. The reality, however, was that I felt the writing style just too finicky to pay attention to what was going on. I found most of it incomprehensible and frustrating to the extreme. The story may be a good one, but the writing ruined the experience for me.

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Loved the premise that William Shakespeare is press ganged into writing a new play “The Sister Queens’ , fictionalising the rivalry between Elizabeth 1 and her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots.
The plot twist is that the briber is insistent that Will shows that Mary never plotted treason against the Queen and she was falsely accused on trumped up evidence.
Loved the colloquial speech of the period, really made you feel you were there among crowds, observing
“Will met his eye. He was done with ducking his head and doffing his cap”
“Who knows what of my next play? Me thinks my poems consume my efforts now”
This novel would be make the perfect tv miniseries
Well researched and extremely interesting in the level detail, making you totally absorbed in the period.
Thanks @justinscott @severnhouse & @netgalley for the intriguing plot and the larger than life characters - perfect historical fiction read

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In this high-stakes historical fiction novel, readers enter the uncertain last years of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign before her death when she had not named an heir. Following one of her most famous subjects, playwright William Shakespeare, readers gain some insight into the political machinations of her court and the desperate attempts to have the Queen name her heir. Focusing on the rival court factions and his latest play commission -- one about the Queen and her late cousin Mary Queen of Scots -- Will struggles to navigate the high-stakes environment and come out safe and secure on the right side of the court. Scott uses familiar characters from this late Elizabethan period, such as Essex, Shakespeare’s patron, and others in his literary and patronage circle, to establish characters, motivations, agendas, and backgrounds as relevant to the larger narrative he seeks to build in this novel. The speculation of a possible play about Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots serves as a fascinating political and creative backdrop for this larger narrative, though it does, in some ways, act as a MacGuffin device. Scott’s historical fiction novel is a fascinating socio-political insight into this late Elizabethan period as experienced by one of its great figures.

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This was a great read, and something that felt different and original.

I loved seeing Will as a flesh and blood character and enjoyed seeing him come to life. He’s witty, fun, intelligent and very easy to identify with and join in on his adventures. I particularly enjoyed how Scott weaved Shakespeare’s creative process into the storyline, and the reader sees his play being created alongside the adventures of Will’s own life.

The plot kept me hooked as it is full of unique characters, plots and danger, and often left me trying to figure out who could be trusted and who could not. It made for an intriguing storyline, with some great twists and revelations.

Scott creates a very immersive world, and it’s easy to get absorbed into Elizabethan London; from the dark alleys and banks of the Thames, to the magic and bustle of the playhouses. Then there was the undertone of religion and the dangers of faith; a very relevant and authentic part of the period, and something which laced the plot with another wider and unsettling conflict.

Overall The Sister Queens provided a great fictional story of one of England’s most famous playwrights, with a distinct voice and a well-crafted plot.

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It's the winter of 1600-1601, London. Queen Elizabeth has reigned over England for over forty years. Gloriana, however, has not married and has refused to name an heir, much to her counsellors' consternation.

The obvious choice lies in her Scots cousin, King James VI, whose mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth executed in 1587. Some favor a candidate closer to home: Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. Brash and handsome, Essex has enjoyed the queen's favor.

In an effort to sway the scales, the spymaster Anthony Bacon tasks master playwright William Shakespeare with crafting a play called "The Sister Queens". Who's ultimately behind the scheme? To what end do they seek the play's creation? Can Will pull off the play of a lifetime...and survive with his life intact?

Author Justin Scott offers readers a glimpse into the mind and heart of England's greatest playwright. He breathes life into a well-meaning and talented artist, troubled by tumultuous times.

We meet some of the period's greats: Ben Jonson, Dick Burbage, and more. We weave through London's dirty warrens alongside Will, hoping he will succeed. We experience the dynamic and complex politics of Elizabethan England.

Sometimes, however, the plot moves slowly, and one big twist at the novel's end doesn't necessarily move the plot forward. But, with a strong cast of dastardly rakes, conniving spies, and cunning women, "The Sister Queens" deserves a standing ovation.

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A well plotted and fascinating historical fiction about the last days of Elizabeth I and how Shakespeare helped to avoid political chaos by writing a play.
Well plotted, vivid historical background, compelling.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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At a time in England when Catholics had to hide due to the penalty of death for not joining the Church of England the unstoppable William Shakespeare and his fancy assistant are being forced to write a play that essentially is propaganda and of course it wouldn’t be a mid evil mystery without the Lord of Norfolk involved with his love ones being threatened he feels compelled to write the play but wants to know who is insisting he do it? When the play is getting put together in about to begin he will find out what he wants to know but he will also learn from his mother something that will rock his world and he never knew he needed to know. When I requested this book on NetGalley I had no clue it was written by that Justin Scott, mr. Scott is one of those authors who doesn’t depend on tropes or popular themes he has been writing books since before they went digital and I have been reading his books since then. He’s one of those authors I read before I went blind he’s an awesome writer and never disappoints and he certainly didn’t with The Sister Queens this book was so good with a great mystery and a surprising twist it is a book I definitely recommend if you want to read a book by an author who only relies on his talent then you should definitely read this one you can tell by his writing he has a love for history and it comes through with his descriptions and historical accuracy. I want to thank sevrin house and net galley for my free Ark copy please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.

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I love Tudor history, regular and fictional. But this just didn't grab my fancy. I got halfway through and skimmed the rest. It's an interesting take on Essex and Elizabeth I's relationship, but it just wasn't feasible. Especially when you discover who actually propositioned Shakespeare initially. (Slight spoiler) I want to say I fully enjoyed it....but I can't because I didn't.

Thanks to NetGalley for access to this advanced copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Thank you NetGalley and Severn House for this eCopy to review

The Sister Queens was an interesting concept that Shakespeare was commissioned to write a new play about Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots and who will be Elizabeth's heir. The ending was good but it took a very long time to get there. Most of the novel was very slow and difficult to follow with danger and treachery round every corner

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Thanks to NetGalley, Justin Scott, and Severn House for allowing me to read an advanced copy of The Sister Queens. I received an advanced reader copy for free and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

An exciting historical fiction novel involving William Shakespeare. He is tasked to write a play against his will about Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, including what happened to Mary in her final days of captivity.

There is a lot of danger around every corner. A lot of mystery to uncover. Intriguing plot and interesting characters. Well written and researched.

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The year is 1600. Queen Elizabeth is in failing health, but will not name her successor. Robert Cecil, her Secretary of State, wants a smooth transition of monarchy, to prevent any attempts at rebellion or a foreign country taking too keen an interest in an empty throne.
King James of Scotland is the natural heir, and Elizabeth is probably reluctant to be in communication with him as she signed the death warrant of his mother, Mary Stuart, or Mary, Queen of Scots.
This book is based on the suggestion that William Shakespeare, a man who is a very proficient wordsmith must write a play about this tricky situation, a play which emphasises the triumph of Elizabeth over Mary, but as secrets about Mary’s imprisonment and death are discovered, Elizabeth becomes suspected of the murder of her cousin Queen.
Shakespeare decides that this play will be a dangerous endeavour, and there are others who conspire to put the Earl of Essex upon the throne
Once a favourite of Queen Elizabeth, he believes he can raise an army and fight for the throne himself, and make a better King than King James, who will be blamed if the conspiracy to usurp the Queen goes wrong.
How to avoid civil war is best served by the power of words, which can be used to shape a nation, Shakespeare must write his play to prevent a challenge to the throne.
I read my first book about Mary, Queen of Scots when I was aged 11, and have read numerous others since, so I was rather taken aback by the assertion by the claim in the opening cast list of characters, that Mary was executed in the Tower of London. Mary Stuart was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire in February 1587, having been kept a prisoner there since September 1586.
I had not heard the name Walt Grinner as being the axeman either, the name Bull, the public executioner, is the name usually attributed to the man performing the grisly beheading.
My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers Severn House for my advanced copy, freely given in exchange for my honest review. I will leave a copy of this to Goodreads and Amazon UK later. A four star read.

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This book centres around Elizabeth I, now an aging queen who will not name her successor, and William Shakespeare. It is well written, with some glorious dialogue in the words of the age and as you would expect with the premier playwright at the helm. Shakespeare is drawn into intrigue between the Earl of Essex (and Shakespeare's sponsor Shrewsbury) and Robert Cecil. Essex fancies himself as the next king, but he is out of favour with Elizabeth. Cecil prefers Mary, Queen of Scots' son James, but is determined at all costs to avoid civil war.

Enter Shakespeare, commissioned to write a play about the two queens - Elizabeth and Mary - in an effort to avert war. But he is torn as new evidence appears and friends, and even he, are in jeopardy.

A very enjoyable read, perhaps a little slow in parts, but full of glorious images of the day. Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House for allowing me access to the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I'm always up for a new historical mystery. They're my bread-and-butter reading: not "high" literature, but yummy enough. There are several series out there that feature Shakespeare as detective. The Sister Queens, however, stood out to me among this group because of the complexity of the central problem and the fact that Shakespeare's life may depend upon it in a very real way.

The novel is set late in the reign of Elizabeth I. She refuses to say who should rule after her. Everyone is worried about this topic, speaking of it is treason, and any number of hopefuls, convinced of their right to rule, are scheming in the background. Shakespeare is ordered by a spymaster to write a play about the conflict between Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots, and Mary's execution. Shakespeare knows that writing about the near present is asking for trouble, potentially deadly trouble. There's a reason he's stuck with history plays and Holinshed's Chronicles. He doesn't want his work to be applicable to present-day controversies.

Shakespeare's been told his mother will be prosecuted as a recusant Catholic if he doesn't write the play, so he needs to find a way to complete the project. Part of this challenge is figuring out who is behind the demand for the play and what their aim is. On the surface, this appears to be a plot intended to bring the Earl of Essex, a long-time favorite Elizabeth, to power. He's preening, gathering followers to wear his colors—but attempting to claim the throne would turn him from favorite to tower prisoner in no time.

The situation underlying this book has an equivalent in history. Two years before Elizabeth I's death, Shakespeare's company was ordered to perform Richard II on a particular date. They did, Essex attempted a rebellion, but it fell flat. And yes, he became a tower prisoner in no time. But this fact does not constitute a spoiler.

In The Sister Queens, Shakespeare finds his own way to solve his dilemma, and we get an alternate version of events, one that is surprising and effective.

I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.

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London 1600, and we’re following master poet and playmaker William Shakespeare, as he finds himself writing a play against his will - a play about Elizabeth Tudor and Mary Queen of Scots, detailing the history of both, and discovering what happened to Mary during her last days of captivity.

However, this play is proving to be very dangerous for Will, because the script (meant to inspire rebellion), would in all likelihood throw the nation into civil war and certainly place his own life in danger.

The Royal Court itself was a hotbed of corruption, and with no legitimate heir to Elizabeth’s throne, the knives are out, and England is in great danger.

Well researched, extremely detailed and interesting, and a great addition to the Historical Fiction genre.

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This was such a great concept for a Tudor novel, it had everything that I was expecting from this type of book. The characters felt like they were supposed to and never felt like they didn’t belong in this world. Justin Scott does a fantastic job in writing this and left me wanting more.

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*Thank you NetGalley for the e-Arc!* (REVIEW ALSO POSTED ON GOODREADS)

A beautifully written suspenseful historical fiction and mystery, following a master poet and playmaker as he attempts to keep the waters steady between opposing sides whilst writing a play that may shake the grounds beneath his and all of England’s feet. Threats linger in the air like a veil of deathly smog, and it is quickly learned that trust is to be fully placed in no one, no matter how they display their loyalty.

“You are no man’s tool.”

“I am my own”

Historical fiction is not typically a genre I would pick up, but I was quickly captivated and ensnared by the thriller and utterly apprehensive mystery this book quickly became. I truly did not think I would enjoy this as much as I did.

The plot twists in this story are wonderfully weaved in!

What I liked - the beautiful writing, the suspense, the wonderful evolution of the characters through the storyline, the plot itself, the fast pace & action, and of course our witty, mature, clever and street smart main character, William Shakespeare.

What I thought could have been improved upon - The story was great, but I often found it difficult to keep the characters straight. There is a helpful guide at the front, but going back to locate everything takes a while. I also found that I didn’t have much of a connection to many of the characters as I normally would in many other books I have read in the past.

So, overall, I would recommend this book to historical fiction, mystery, and thriller lovers, especially those who are fond of Shakespeare and the renaissance time period.

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A fascinating account of William Shakespeare at the end of Elizabeth Tudor's reign. We explore the latter days of Elizabeth's reign and watch Shakespeare foil the Earl of Essex's insurrection as Shakespeare finds what happened to Mary, Queen of Scots during her captivity.

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A story told during the end of Elizabeth Tudor's reign and William Shakespeare. The rivalry between Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots; this was a religious feud that could turn a county into civil war. Caught in the middle is Shakespeare. A well written and well researched book, it is a good novel to read.

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An excellent story of Will Shakespeare and the end of Elizabeth Tudor’s reign. As Shakespeare discovers what happened to Mary, Queen of Scots during the last days of her captivity, we explore the last days of Elizabeth’s reign, and watch as Shakespeare foils the Earl of Essex’s rebellion.

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The story flowed well and the characters were well developed. I recommend this book and look forward to more from this author.

****Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review****

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