The Rose Labyrinth by Titania Hardie

Synopsis from Amazon:

Before his death in 1609, the brilliant Elizabethan spy and astrologer John Dee hid his most astonishing secrets, trusting his descendants would one day bring them to light. That time has come.

In 2003, Will Stafford inherits a strange legacy from his mother: a key and an ancient script with an enigmatic note. Intrigued, he travels Europe seeking answers to Dee’s riddles, unaware that someone is following every move. Back in London, Lucy King becomes entangled in Will’s cryptic labyrinth. As its mysterious twists take her from France to New York, and from literature to myth, in search of its hidden treasure, she has never been closer to the truth, nor in graver danger.

The Rose Labyrinth is a complex offering of romance and mystery, with a lyrical style of writing throughout. The language is clearly carefully structured, used to it’s greatest potential, and the novel features a delightful amount of literary references sure to please any avid reader. The description and imagery in the novel is immensely detailed, drawing attention to small factors which provide a solid construct in the mind of the reader. The credible characters are easy to imagine; ultimately allowing a fictional story, about a mysterious legacy and the secrets of historical characters, to seem very real. The book bears a resemblance to Kate Mosse’s “Labyrinth” and Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’ in style/content, but it resembles the better points in each – the beautiful portrayal of both settings and persons, and the thrilling unravelling of a deeply researched mystery which walks the spiritual line between science and religion.

Any book which tackles the task of presenting and then deciphering a mystery faces a challenge – keeping the reader informed as necessary without revealing too much. The book starts off brilliantly, tracing three strands of events/characters and tying them firmly together into a complex weaving of unexpected twists. A cast of intelligent characters allows for easy discussion about the clues within the mystery, steadily moving the reader along. It would be difficult to lose track of the story as it is clearly explained, yet at the same time the plot continues to surprise throughout.

Perhaps the most powerful character in the novel is one revealed gradually and indirectly – Will. The starting pointing for the characters delving into a centuries old family legacy begins with the surprisingly charismatic Will Stafford, whose fate you will truly want to understand and justify, by immersing yourself into the mystery surrounding him. The other characters are solid figures in their own right each with a particular character trait most readers may well be able to relate to, as well as the main romantic side to the story provided by Alex and Lucy – a romance with a twist. Ultimately the book provides a wonderfully complete account of spiritual ideas as it moves towards a satisfying ending that leaves room for personal interpretation. A must read for any adventurer or romantic!

8/10

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