I have mixed feelings about this book.
The plot will not be unexpected to anyone familiar with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. To summarise, a magical ritual involving John Dee and Sir Francis Walsingham goes spectacularly wrong and accidentally binds his niece, Lucy, to a demon. (Well, kind of a demon.) Lucy finds herself taking on responsibilities that good women were not expected to perform in Elizabethan England, such as fighting demons and a rogue sorceress. There’s a merry cast of clerks, old sea dogs (including a dashing ship’s Captain who made my teeth clench) and the Queen herself, target of an assassination plot.
There is a great deal to love in this book. The time period is well-described, along with the treatment of women in England, which while superior to modern-day Saudi Arabia was still barbaric, not least because Elizabeth was more than capable of ruling the entire country. There are few slips, although one does wonder how many changes might have occurred in history if magic – as was implied – was actually real all along. Of course, with the exact nature of Lilith as defined in the book, magic might not be the right word.
There is also a great deal to be annoyed about. Lucy doesn’t set out to overthrow the sexist and downright irrational barriers, or, for that matter, to use what she’s given to change the world. Granted medical knowledge far superior to anything in that time, among other things, she doesn’t attempt to introduce changes, such as fresh fruit to tackle scurvy. I’m sure her handsome Captain would be delighted to have such a boon! The flashbacks and the intersections with modern-day Britain are just annoying. The main body of the plot stands well on its own.
And then…just what was the overall plot? I expected Lucy standing in defence of the Queen, not…well, that would be spoiling it.
Let’s just say that this book had considerable promise, but fails to quite live up to it. It’s not a bad read, but really needed a rewrite.