BLOOD AND INK
BY D.K. MARLEY
Publication Date: March 28, 2018
The White Rabbit Publishing
ebook, Paperback, and Audible; 438 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
In the tradition of “The Marlowe Papers” by Ros Barber, the debut historical fiction novel “Blood and Ink” tells the story of Christopher “Kit” Marlowe, the dark and brooding playwright of Queen Elizabeth’s court. Marlowe sells his soul to gain the one thing he desires: to see his name immortalized.
Inspired at an early age on the banks of the Stour River, his passion for a goose quill and ink thrusts him into the labyrinth of England’s underworld – a secret spy ring created by the Queen’s spymaster, Sir Frances Walsingham.
Kit suffers the whips and scorns of time as he witnesses the massacre of Paris, the hypocrisy of the church, the rejection from his ‘dark lady,’ the theft of his identity as a playwright, and wrenching loss breathing life into many of his unforgettable characters.
As he sinks further into the clutches of Walsingham, a masque is written by his own hand to save his life from shadowing betrayers, from the Queen’s own Star Chamber, and from the Jesuit assassins of Rome, thus sending him into exile and allowing an unknown actor from Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare, to step into his shoes.
And so begins the lie; and yet, what will a man not do to regain his name?
“DK Marley’s exhaustively researched and spryly written novel Blood and Ink follows in the tradition of such minor-key classics as Anthony Burgess’ A Dead Man in Deptford, and the central premise of Marley’s book—that Marlowe only faked his death in 1593 in order to escape the attentions of the Privy Council—will be familiar to followers of the Shakespearean authorship question (Shakespeare, needless to say, features prominently here). Marley has sifted through a phenomenal amount of research, but along the way she hasn’t forgotten to tell a first-rate and gripping story, adorned in many places by some very pretty turns of phrase. We may never have a final resolution to the tangled questions Marley raises, but as long as we get such strong and enjoyable novels as this one out of the tangle, we shouldn’t complain.” -Historical Novel Society
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Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare were both young men who grew up under the reign of Elizabeth I. Christopher or Kit was guided by the muse Calliope to have an ingenious wit and create wonderful works of written word. When still very young, Kit's talent was noticed by Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth's spymaster. Kit was whisked away from his family in return for schooling. However, Kit was really being groomed as a spy for Elizabeth herself. Kit's dream is to be a famous playwright and have his name immortalized. For this, Kit is willing to do Walsingham's bidding as he works his way into the Queen's favor. Meanwhile, Will Shakespeare dreams of being an actor on stage. Will's family still practices the old religion, placing them in danger time and time again. This also unknowingly places Will within Kit's path as a spy for Walsingham. As the men age, their paths cross again. When Kit needs to escape for a time, Elizabeth hatches a plan so Kit may continue living, and his words may continue to grace the stage, but at what price?
Everyone knows the writings of William Shakespeare, but how many know the name and works of Christopher Marlowe? I myself was not very familiar with Marlowe other than recognizing his name as a contemporary of Shakespeare. Many believe that Marlowe did not truly die at such a young age and the William Shakespeare was simply passing along his works. DK Marley presents the mystery of the two men from their youth through their deaths in an intriguing alternate narration between the two. Writing in the voices of two acclaimed writers is no easy task, however the dialogue and narration seemed effortless and accurate for William and Kit at the time. I loved the device of Calliope as a muse for Kit and a guiding voice; it seems that she might have even more to say. I also enjoyed learning about Walsingham's spy ring and Elizabeth's relationships with Marlowe and Shakespeare. Overall, a wonderful and atmospheric historical intrigue for anyone who enjoys Shakespeare, Marlowe or Tudor history.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
D. K. Marley is a historical fiction writer specializing in Shakespearean themes. Her grandmother, an English Literature teacher, gave her a volume of Shakespeare’s plays when she was eleven, inspiring DK to delve further into the rich Elizabethan language. Eleven years ago she began the research leading to the publication of her first novel “Blood and Ink,” an epic tale of lost dreams, spurned love, jealousy and deception in Tudor England as the two men, William Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, fight for one name and the famous works now known as the Shakespeare Folio.She is an avid Shakespearean / Marlowan, a member of the Marlowe Society, the Shakespeare Fellowship and a signer of the Declaration of Intent for the Shakespeare Authorship Debate. She has traveled to England three times for intensive research and debate workshops, and is a graduate of the intense training workshop “The Writer’s Retreat Workshop” founded by Gary Provost and hosted by Jason Sitzes.She lives in Georgia with her husband and a Scottish Terriers named Maggie and Buster.
For more information, please visit D.K. Marley’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.