Sep 29, 2014

Book Review/GIVEAWAY: Dark Aemelia by Sally O'Reilly

Title: Dark Aemelia: A Novel of Shakespeare's Dark Lady by Sally O'Reilly
Published May 27, 2014; Picador/Macmillan
Genre: historical fiction

Book description:
A TALE OF SORCERY AND PASSION IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY LONDON—WHERE WITCHES HAUNT WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE AND HIS DARK LADY, THE PLAYWRIGHT’S MUSE AND ONE TRUE LOVE. The daughter of a Venetian musician, Aemilia Bassano came of age in Queen Elizabeth’s royal court. She develops a love of poetry and learning, maturing into a young woman known not only for her beauty but also her sharp mind and quick tongue. Aemilia becomes the mistress of Lord Hunsdon, but her position is precarious. Then she crosses paths with an impetuous playwright named William Shakespeare and begins an impassioned but ill-fated affair.

 A decade later, the Queen is dead, and Aemilia Bassano is now Aemilia Lanyer, fallen from favor and married to a fool. Like the rest of London, she fears the plague. And when her young son Henry takes ill, Aemilia resolves to do anything to save him, even if it means seeking help from her estranged lover, Will—or worse, making a pact with the Devil himself.

 Sally O’Reilly breathes life into England’s first female poet, a mysterious woman nearly forgotten by history.

My comments:
The author has taken historical personages, notably Shakespeare himself, and woven a fictional tale of love and magic involving Aemilia Bassano, England's first female poet, and the Bard. This novel's story is not based on fact and Aemilia's relationship with Shakespeare in this book is pure fiction. We still don't know who the Dark Lady, Shakespeare's muse, refers to in real life. But this is a good story for those who don't mind. A lot of imaginative creativity in this novel, which I recommend for those who love historical fiction and romance.

See the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour schedule for more reviews of the book.

About the Author
Sally O’Reilly has received numerous citations for her fiction, which has been shortlisted for the Ian St James Short Story Prize and the Cosmopolitan Short Story Award. A former Cosmopolitan New Journalist of the Year, her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Sunday Times, the Evening Standard, and the New Scientist. She teaches creative writing at the Open University and the University of Portsmouth in England. Dark Aemilia is her U.S. debut.

Thanks to HF Virtual Book Tours and the publisher for a review copy.

BOOK GIVEAWAY: Giveaway of five copies, open to US and Canada residents only. Please leave a comment with your email address OR email your entry to me at with the heading: "Dark Aemelia Giveaway."  Please respond by October 9, 2014. 

UPDATE: Congrats to Barbara, Brian, Tea, Shaula, and Anita, THE WINNERS.


  1. I do believe the giveaways are hard cover copies!

  2. I love the dark nature of this book, please include me in the giveaway, thank you.


  3. I am very interested and Shakespeare and the Sonnets so this sounds interesting.

    Oddly enough, I think that I prefer historical fiction that veers off from the real history. For me, I do not like it when facts and fiction become muddled. Something like this, totally fictitious, avoids those issues.

  4. I love historical fiction and love stories. This book sounds really amazing. Thanks for having the giveaway.



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