Today I’m so excited to welcome you to my stop on the tour for The Plague Letters, a brilliant historical fiction and crime mystery mix of a novel with a lot of humour thrown in too!  I just couldn’t put this book down and I hope you’ll enjoy my review for this amazing book below.  A big thank you to Flora Willis at Viper Books for a copy of this book and the chance to be on the blog tour!  Please do check out the other stops and I hope you like the sound of this book! 🙂

Title: The Plague Letters
Author: V. L. Valentine
Publisher: Viper Books
Genre: Historical fiction, Mystery, Humour
Book format: Pre-publication proof copy of hardback
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London, 1665. Hidden within the growing pile of corpses in his churchyard, Rector Symon Patrick discovers a victim of the pestilence unlike any he has seen before: a young woman with a shorn head, covered in burns, and with pieces of twine delicately tied around each wrist and ankle.
Desperate to discover the culprit, Symon joins a society of eccentric medical men who have gathered to find a cure for the plague. Someone is performing terrible experiments upon the dying, hiding their bodies amongst the hundreds that fill the death carts.
Only Penelope – a new and mysterious addition to Symon’s household – may have the skill to find the killer. Far more than what she appears, she is already on the hunt. But the dark presence that enters the houses of the sick will not stop, and has no mercy…

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  Wow this is such an amazing read, I just couldn’t put it down! It’s 1665 and Pastor Symon Patrick has just returned to London after a break from the city. Unhappy with having to resume his work in London, and still pining for the countryside and the attention of a lady called Elizabeth, Symon soon comes across his first victims of the plague which has begun to spread in London. But while attending to the bodies of the dead as they are being put into a grave, Symon sees the corpse of a young woman with strange markings on her skin and twine tied around her ankles and wrists. As the plague spreads across London and and more bodies arrive to be buried in pits in the church grounds, it soon becomes clear that someone is dealing out cruel punishments to some of dead. But can Symon and his frineds find out who the murderer is before someone else falls victim to them?

This is such a brilliant historical mystery that I just couldn’t stop reading from the very first page! The story follows different characters but focuses mainly on Symon who at the start of the story is not well after returning to London. Symon is an interesting character that I instantly liked, especially as he’s not particularly brave and has a strange on-going obsession with sending letters to a lady called Elizabeth. I liked what happened with Symon’s story and the different things that happened in his personal life as well as the wider story of the plague. Not long after his return to London he finds a young woman called Penelope who is sick with the plague, but unlike most victims she soon recovers and becomes an interesting new member of his household.

While the plague continues to spread, more victims are found with strange ink markings on their skin, twine tied around their wrists and ankles, and other more gory things happening to them. Symon is soon invited to The Society for the Prevention and Cure of the Plague, a strange society made up of a few medical men, who hope they will find a cure to the plague by following some very strange methods. Symon hopes that the society of medics can help him find the killer of the victims he’s found, but things don’t go according to plan. I just love how this story played out. The constant mix of the serious story of the murder and plague along with the funny and silly moments that all the different individuals had. I love how diffferent all of the characters were, especially the medical men like the surgeon Mincy with his dogs and apothecary Boghurst and how they all constantly fell into such riducluous arguments that made me laugh out loud with now silly they were.

I like what happened with Penelope too, and the later revelation she has with the ghosts. I just loved how interesting and different Penelope was and despite her often odd and inappropriate behaviour, there was so much more depth to her, and I desperately wanted to know more about her past and see what happened between her and some of the other characters including Symon. The story is a brilliant crime mystery with the murderer turning out to be someone I just didn’t expect. I actually thought it might have been too easily given away earlier on, with some of the clues near the begining, but I was pleasantly surprised with how the story ended and I loved the fact I wasn’t able to guess what had really happened!

The story is brilliant overall and I just love how everything ends in such a satisfying way, even though there are some sad moments too. Throughout the story I was just glued to the pages and I couldn’t help but laugh on more than one occassion when something silly happed with Symon and the other characters. The end of the story finishes well although I would have liked to know more about Penelope’s past and what would happen to her and the rest of Symon’s household in the future. It’s a great standalone story although I can’t help but wish to see the same chracters back in a new story as I just loved them all so much and I really didn’t want the story to end!

There are a few gory descriptions of what happens to some of the victims of the murderer as well as some descriptions of dead bodies, death and a few less than pleasant descriptions of life in an unhygenic London. There is also very infrequent swearing with just a few uses of the s word and I believe one use of a stronger word. There are maps on several pages spread throughout the story with a map of London and an update on the number of deaths from the plague. I liked this addition of the map as it helped me to remember where in London the various parts of the story were taking place as well as helping me to realise just how bad the real plague was at this time!  The author notes at the end are good to read too as they shed some light on some facts about the real plague and how real some of the characters in the story were, which was interesting!

Overall I have just loved this story sooo much! I know I’ve marked a few books this year as favourites so far but this has got to be one of the very best I’ve ever read! I just love historical fiction stories in general especially ones with such brilliant characters the fact that this tale had so many funny moments that made me laugh along the way just made this such a good read! I just love how engrossed I was in this book, I just couldn’t put it down! And the story is so good that it felt like a great historical mystery to read but with so many funny moments that it would make a brilliant movie to watch too! I can’t wait to read more from this author, this really is one of my favourite books ever and one that I’d recommend to everyone!

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The Plague Letters book cover

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I hope you have enjoyed my stop on the tour today and The Plague Letters is avalailable to buy right now!

What do you think of this book?  Do you like historical fiction?  What about mysteries or historical mysteries?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂