A small handful of months ago, author Samantha Wilcoxson gave us a novella of the formidable Margaret Beaufort as part of her Plantagenet Embers series. This next novella features her equal and opposite number in the House of York, Elizabeth Woodville: The White Queen, as she’s sometimes known. As Woodville is the mother of Elizabeth of York, she who kickstarted this entire series, it feels in a way we’ve come full circle. And indeed we have, for the events of this novella coincide with the early chapters of that first novel, fulfilling the promises of continuity, both in story and in character.
When I was approached to review the first novel, I had no idea what to expect, and I don’t really think she did either. A lot has changed since then. Samantha and I have become friends, and I’ve seen her writing skills grow and develop. I’m one of those people that loves to see behind the curtain into the creative process, so this has been quite the treat for me. I can no longer claim to be wholly unbiased, but by the same token, it also bolsters my expectations. I know what Samantha is capable of creating, you see, and every so often I encourage her to dig deeper as a storyteller, to push her characters and situations to that next level. Through it all, what I admire most about her work is that she operates with the understanding that these characters are historical personalities, real people who lived and breathed as we do. That is to say, they are human and must be regarded as such. Her realistic treatment of them is always refreshing, especially when compared to some of the more lurid or sensationalist versions on the market.
Samantha once told me that she had difficulty connecting with Elizabeth Woodville, a point that she echoes in the afterward to this story. Be that as it may, a writer must push past such difficulties to craft a successful character, and she’s proven herself to be worthy to such a challenge. Readers familiar with this series will quickly recognize Elizabeth to be one of the most complex characterizations in the whole of the Plantagenet Embers series to date. Given the other ladies who have taken the spotlight thus far, that’s quite the feat. Elizabeth’s protective and suspicious nature saturates the focus of this tale from the first page, claiming this portion of the story as her own even when she knows it isn’t hers. The result is a highly satisfying read, made richer and more engaging by the whole of the series and the very real history behind it.
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