The Serpent's Tale

At about 1:30 this morning i finished The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin. It is the second book detailing the adventures of Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, a mistress in the art of death.

So, anything you find out in the first chapter isn't a spoiler right? It is about a year and a half after the end of the previous novel. Well, Rowley Picot is now the Bishop of St. Albans. Adelia has had their child, a healthy girl named Allie. They both live with Glytha and Mansur in the Fens as the doctors of the town have run them out. So much for Adelia's patrons! That bit really, really ticked me off. Henry Plantagenet won't allow Adelia to leave his country but doesn't make any arrangements for her. Prior Geoffrey appears at the beginning and does feel he should do more for Adelia and her little family. Rowley (sort of) has an excuse, Adelia made him leave and the Church, since he wasn't their choice, is looking for any reason to get him fired.

When Henry's mistress Rosamund is poisoned, Rowley brings Adelia and company to investigate. When another murder occurs, Adelia and Mansur investigate Sherlock Holmes style, reading tracks in the snow, the clothes of the victim, etc, to realize they must hide the murder to catch the killer. Then, while trying to recover Rosamund's body, Queen Eleanor and her retinue arrive and capture everyone, with only Rowley attempting to escape by diving into the freezing, icy Thames.

I liked this book but not as much as the first. I feel that Franklin played the old detective novel trick of having our investigator know things that aren't communicated to the reader. I didn't like that Rowley and Adelia aren't together, especially since the ending of the first book really implied that their differences had been worked out. I liked how Adelia has become more of a whole person; her relationships with everyone, her family and strangers and other women, have been enhanced by her love for her daughter. I felt terrible for Emma Bloat, a girl being forced into marriage. I loved the Henry scene and like how the book ended on a higher note. overall, i am giving this one a 5.

So, since this book has been on my TBR pile since 5/16/09, it will be my second book for the TBR category of the 2010 Challenge! And it counts for my personal challenge to read 25% of my TBR stack before i buy any more. Of course, since i keep getting books anyway maybe i should reevaluate that one!

I've also gotten out of the habit of doing this: Other Opinions: Avid Book Reader, Dear Author, Jen's Book Thoughts, Books and Border Collies, Good, Bad and Unread.


  1. I really liked the first novel but this one left me cold. I felt Adelia was becoming a shrew. Like you, I was shocked that she ended up being a single mother. There was some good moments in the book; I do like the writing but it just did not live up the the first one. I would like to try other books by Franklin.
    Good for you for reading from your TBR pile. I vowed to, but darn it, I keep getting books from PBS LOL

  2. Anonymous12/1/10 05:21

    Oooh, this sounds interesting. I'm adding the first one at least to my TBR pile. I LOVE historical fiction, especially books about Henry VIII.

  3. SariJ- well, umm, about that TBR. I went to a used bookstore yesterday just to see if they had the next book in the series, Grave Goods. They didn't, but i bought 2 others! *sighs*

    Mominsanity- It's actually Henry II that this series deals with but i like him. he has mistresses but didn't off any wives!


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