The Colour of Blood novella by Toni Mount was actually my entree into the the Sebastian Foxley medieval mystery series, and it was enough to whet my appetite for more. It is actually the second entry in the series, but each story is written with the intention of being able to stand on its own. The novella focuses on the weddng day of Sebastian and his sweetheart, Emily. The tradition of borrowing a livery collar from one’s guild is showcased in this story. Things go awry, however, when Seb’s livery collar turns out to be a fake. Seb, his brother Jude, and a fairly charming street urchin named Jack have to figure out where the real collar is before Seb himself is accused of stealing it and ending his marriage before it has a chance to begin.
I found this story to be sweet and entertaining, if a trifle too innocent. I don’t know if it was just because it was a novella and by default couldn’t go into more depth, but the mystery was a little too conveniently wrapped up, the characters just this side of oversimplified. However, I still enjoyed the story and the setting, and it is obvious that Mount does excellent research. I was entertained and intrigued enough by Sebastian to want to read more, and so am in the process of reading the third book of the series, and went back and bought the first one as well. I would not do that if I didn’t find the story, writing, research, and characters worthwhile, and I am looking forward to getting to know this new medieval character better.
Author: Toni Mount
Source: PDF copy from my review site handler 🙂 I don’t know what else to call her.
Length: 64 pp
The Colour of Cold Blood is the third in the Sebastian Foxley series by Toni mount, and the second full length novel. This time, Seb and his older brother Jude are trying hard to run their scrivener’s shop and live a normal life. Seb is trying to enjoy married life with Emily, whom he wed in the preceding novella, The Colour of Gold. Seb is dealing with daily medieval life and its troubles – running his shop, managing rambunctious apprentices, making ends meet even though the local clergy keep asking for fancy psalters for free. There’s also the small problem of someone murdering local prostitutes, and Seb’s journeyman, Gabe, is arrested for heresy on top of it.
I found this to be a quick read, full of nice nuances of medieval London life. It was a tad slow to get into the actual plot of the two separate mysteries, but I enjoyed the minutia enough that it didn’t bother me. Other readers who want more action right off the bat might find it a bit slow going. But the plot involving the murders of the prostitutes is intriguing, and presents Seb with a very interesting problem – how can he teach Rose, a prostitute he met and befriended (no, really) how to read and better her situation in life without Emily thinking the wrong thing? And his plan to rescue Gabe from Newgate and a heretic’s execution is fun, though it perhaps requires a little more suspension of disbelief than I think most readers can likely muster.
One thing that really confounded me, however, was Emily herself. I fully admit that I haven’t read the first book of the series. I read the novella, which was my first introduction to the series and the characters, and now this third instalment. Unless Emily was very different in the first book, she seems to have undergone a sea change from the novella to this novel. In the novella, she was sweet but had a good deal of spark and seemed the sort who wouldn’t be shy to speak up for herself. In …Cold Blood, she was an absolute shrew throughout. The change was jarring, as was another plot point involving her, which I will not discuss so as to avoid spoilers, but which seemed to come out of the blue. Seb seemed consistent and the little apprentice boys, especially Jack, were thoroughly developed, but some of the other characters seemed inconsistent even within the story.
Overall, while I enjoyed the novel in general, there were a few quibbles I had with it. I think if you are looking for a quick airplane read, this would do nicely, but if you want something more substantial with deeper character and plot development, another novel would be a better option.
Author: Toni Mount
Source: PDF – same as above.
Length: 324 pp