Published: 18 November 2021
Author: Bella Ellis
Published by: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Reading dates: 11-17 November 2021
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.
Happy publication day to The Red Monarch by Bella Ellis – I’m thrilled to be sharing my review today! This is the third book in The Brontë Mysteries series. I read and thoroughly enjoyed the The Diabolical Bones last year and although part of a series, I believe they can all be read as standalones.
When Anne receives a letter from her former pupil, Lydia desperate for help, she and her siblings, Charlotte, Emily and brother Branwell, travel to London to try and help her. Her life and that of her unborn child is threatened by a mysterious figure called The Red Monarch who believes Lydia’s husband Harry has stolen a jewel of his. He has taken Harry, leaving it up to Lydia to save both his life and her own as he has made it clear he will kill them both unless it is returned. But Lydia has no idea where the jewel is or where her husband may of hidden it so it is up the sisters and their detective work, to find the jewel and save Harry and Lydia.
From the moment we arrived in London in the year 1852, I felt thoroughly transported back to that time. Set in a theatre, the supporting characters and friends they make who help them with their search are also brilliant. As with the last book, the story is told through chapters from each sister’s perspective – all of the sisters have special skills and strengths and love each other fiercely but in this story, I must confess that Emily had a special place in my heart.
I love this series and the imagination from Bella Ellis to imagine the Brontë sisters as detectives that put their lives at risk to help people. There are some dark themes in The Red Monarch – Ellis does not shy away from the realities of living in poverty in London in the 1800’s and the often unpleasant things people have to do to survive.
Although I love the Yorkshire setting of the first 2 novels, it was good to see the sisters in London. I thoroughly enjoyed The Red Monarch and think this series could run and run (and I hope it does!)
Thank you to Steven Cooper for inviting me on the blog tour and for my copy of the book. Please check out the other blogger reviews below:
About the author
Bella Ellis is the Bronte inspired pen name for the award winning Sunday Times bestselling author Rowan Coleman. A Bronte 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.