The Drowned City by KJ Maitland

Posted On 5 April 2021

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : Great start to historical series

Drowned CityWell, I say this is a great start, because I’m hopeful there will be more books with Daniel Pursglove seeking answers, so fingers crossed that this book receives the praise it deserves and more books are forthcoming.  I’ve long wanted to read Maitland and in fact I’m not quite sure why I’ve not delved into her work sooner.  I enjoy a good historical novel and the period for The Drowned City was a particularly fascinating time.

The story takes place a little time after the Gunpowder Plot has been discovered, King James first sits on the throne and times are turbulent when it comes to religion with those of the Catholic persuasion being forced into secrecy.  The plot here takes place after disaster strikes the Bristol channel causing rumours of witchcraft, or the hand of God taking revenge, to run rife.  James, already of a nervous disposition following the threat to his life, is eager for an investigation to be held to quell such rumours before they take on a life of their own.  It’s believed that one of the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot, Spero Pettingar, escaped detection and fled to Bristol which, in the throes of chaos is not only the perfect hiding place but is also a hotbed for spies and conspiracy.

Now, enter the scene Daniel Pursglove.  When I say enter the scene I mean let’s take a look inside Newgate Prison because that’s where Daniel is currently residing – and I don’t mean in a voluntary manner.  By all accounts Newgate was a pretty hideous place and Maitland paints it here in quite hideous but appropriate terms.  Pursglove is the perfect candidate to send into Bristol.  His background lends itself well, and you will discover this as the plot is uncovered, and so, he’s given a chance at freedom, go to Bristol, report back, and, if favourable, be released.  The stakes are high.

So, what did I like about this.  Well, it’s a fantastic period of history, rife with intrigue.  Everyone was backstabbing everyone else and this comes across clearly here.  The writing is just gorgeous.  You can practically sink into the place.  I love the attention to detail.  The place depicted is a hot mess which you would expect after such a catastrophic event – and even to this day it appears there are arguments about whether or not this was an immense storm surge or a tsunami.  Basically, whatever it was that took place, it caused massive devastation and that becomes clear on every page.  Bristol isn’t just dangerous in terms of the criminal element or the undercover conspiracies, the physical landscape is dangerous by virtue of the disaster.

On top of this Daniel is a great character to follow.  I found myself enjoying his story very much.  He’s basically a good guy, he’s not above taking action, he knows what’s what, and he isn’t naive by a long stroke of the imagination, but he’s basically a likable person and I could quite happily follow more of his adventures.

In terms of criticisms.  Not much from me to be honest.  I think this isn’t a book that you’re going to race through. This is a period of time that was messy and convoluted and sometimes it’s difficult to grasp all the subtle nuances. Also, Daniel sometimes seems to follow a strange path in his search for answers and not necessarily a path that’s easy to follow or understand.  Basically he seems to spend his time in any number of drinking establishments listening to gossip or seeking out shady characters.  There definitely is a slowing down of pace at certain points not to mention a slightly first in series feel but I have to say that none of these things were a problem for me.

On the whole, I had a really good time with this and I would love for the series to continue.  I think this could become a wonderfully dark and mysterious series.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars

4 Responses to “The Drowned City by KJ Maitland”

  1. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Historical fiction is becoming more and more interesting for me these days, and a book that invites me to learn more is always a welcome one 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Louise

    This sounds brilliant! I had never heard of it but I saw someone else review it a few days ago and I am feeling pretty convinced that I need to read this.

  3. Katie @ Whispering Pages

    i’m glad you enjoyed this!! lovely review ❤

  4. Wondrous Words and Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Hidden by Melanie Golding | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] the book I was reading when came across this word was The Drowned City (which I enjoyed, my review here) by KJ […]

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