The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The comparisons to books like The Eight, Labyrinth, Codex, etc. are all apt except that this has no modern day component. Instead, we're completely in the world of Henry Tudor, mostly during the time of Queen Jane but with some scenes taking place during the time of Queen Katherine of Aragon and Queen Anne.
Joanna Stafford's family is semi-royal, and her mother is a Spanish woman "in exile" serving her Queen. When the Queen is on her deathbed she suggests Joanna profess her faith at Dartford Priory as a Dominican nun - of course this is during a time when Henry has already broken with the Roman church and is destroying the monestaries, abbeys and priories of the Catholic nuns and monks. But Joanna isn't the meek postulate everyone expects and she leaves Dartford to stand by her cousin, who is about to be burned for treason. Of course this leads to Joanna being taken prisoner in the Tower, and then coerced into hunting for a relic supposedly hidden at the Priory during the reign of Edward III.
This historical bits are really quite fascinating, even those parts that are familiar to people who know something about the Tudor court. It would have been nice to have had a clearer view into the daily life of the Priory (and Malmesbury Abbey) but that's just me. The relic, its role in the establishment of the royal line, etc. were all, well, less interesting to me.
Copy provided by the publisher.