About the Author
Clio Gray was born in Yorkshire, spent her childhood in Saltburn-by-the-Sea and Devon and then studied philosophy in London before completing a degree in the History of Art in Leeds. She joined the public library service and now lives in the Highlands of Scotland. Inspired by the Highlands and its unique Nordic connections, she started to write short stories before moving on to novels. Clio has won a number of prestigious awards and competitions. Her novel, The Anatomist’s Dream, was nominated for the Man Booker prize in 2015 and long-listed for the Baileys Prize in 2016. Author Website
About the Book
(Publisher Description): 1798. Three people, two brutal murders, and a single promise… Golo Eck is searching for the fabled lost library of The Lynx, Europe’s first scientific society, founded in 1603. Fergus, his friend and fellow adventurer, is on the trail of the legend in Ireland when he becomes embroiled in the uprising of the United Irish against English rule. His only hope of escape is Greta, a courageous messenger for the United Irish cause. Following the bloody battles of New Ross and Vinegar Hill, Fergus is missing, and Greta is on the run. Golo meanwhile suspects other forces are on the trail of the Lynx, and he heads to Holland in pursuit. When Golo’s ship founders and he disappears, his ward Ruan is left to fend for himself, a stranger in a strange land. Can Ruan pursue the trail to the lost library? Will Golo and Fergus be found? Can Greta escape Ireland with her very life? And will the truth of the Legacy of the Lynx finally be revealed?
268 pages, publication date November 2016
My rating: 3.5 (out of 5)
I love my historical fiction, particularly with a mystery element, so I was immediately drawn to this book both by the cover and the description. Despite having a large and imaginative cast of characters and lots of action, the novel just didn’t work for me. The author is particularly ruthless with her characters, many shortly after they have been introduced, and one of the main characters, Ruan Peat, comes across as a stroppy teenager who is difficult to warm to or care about. Although there are lots of action scenes, a large section of the book is based around events in the Irish Rebellion which seemed extraneous to the main plot, the search for the lost library. Throughout the book, I found myself waiting for more information about the history of The Lynx but when some colourful details were eventually given these were recounted very briefly by a minor character. This is clearly a well-researched book inspired by historical fact and most of the writing evokes the period in which it is set. However, there were some modern phrases that jarred (such as “keeping his mouth zipped”, “plonked himself down”, “split early doors”). I felt the book did pick up towards the end as the individual threads were woven together.
In three words: Action, adventure, mystery