Book Review: The Crown by: Nancy Bilyeau



Publish Date:
January 10, 2012

From Publisher for Review


London, May 1537.

When Joanna Stafford, a young novice, learns her cousin is about to be burned at the stake for rebelling against Henry VIII, she makes a decision that will change not only her life, but quite possibly the fate of a nation.

Joanna breaks the sacred rule of enclosure and runs away from Dartford Priory. But when Joanna and her father are arrested and sent to the Tower of London, she finds herself a pawn in a deadly power struggle. Those closest to the throne are locked in a fierce fight against those desperate to save England's monasteries from destruction.

Charged with a mission to find a hidden relic believed to possess a mystical power that has slain three Englishmen of royal blood in the last 300 years, Joanna and a troubled young friar, Brother Edmund, must seek answers across England. Once she learns the true secret of her quest, Joanna must finally determine who to trust, and how far she’s willing to go to protect her life, her family and everything she holds dear.

Review: Set in the Tudor era, The Crown is the story of a novice nun – Joanna Stafford – who is forced to find an ancient artifact or face her death and the death of her father. All Sister Joanna wants to do was be with her cousin, Margaret, during her execution. However, she is not allowed to by the rules of her order. After she slips away from the order, both she and her father are sent to the Tower of London. Here she is given an ultimatum – find the ancient crown of King Athelstan supposedly hidden within the abbey. This crown is supposed to grant the wearer the power to overcome all enemies and unite the kingdom of England. Not only do she and the friars have to find the crown, they are also each tasked with a piece of a hidden agenda. Sister Joanna must put the pieces of the puzzle together and find the crown to save herself and her father from the executioner’s blade.

Well-researched and creative, Ms. Bilyeau’s first novel, The Crown, shines like its namesake. I enjoyed not only the Tudor era history, but the detailed description of King Athelstan’s history as well. A great historical thriller, I can see fans of historical fiction writers such as Sandra Byrd and Anne Easter Smith as well as fans of thriller novels, such as Dan Brown and Douglas Preston enjoying every last word. I liked Joanna’s character – she is someone who wants to live the cloistered life, yet also has a mind for puzzles and mysteries which serves her well on this adventure. She also gives us a unique view of the Tudor court politics, intrigue, and deceit as she is not a member of the court or a ‘hanger-on’. I felt The Crown was very detailed with the descriptions and characters leaping off the page – so much so you felt as if you were part of the story. Ms. Bilyeau’s deft use of words paints a vivid picture and captures your imagination!

Joanna Stafford Series: The Crown (1), The Chalice (2)


  1. This sounds like a fabulous story

  2. This sounds like it's got to be put at the top of my tbr pile! Great review.
    -Kimberly @ Turning The Pages

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