A Burnable Book – Bruce Holsinger

A Burnable Book


HarperCollins Publishers Ltd


My Rating
3.5 stars


Bruce Holsinger’s fiction debut, A Burnable Book, is the first in a proposed series of historical thrillers set in 14th century London.  This is Chaucer’s London, it is 1385, a time of flux especially for the young king, Richard II, whose life may be in danger before he gets the opportunity to rule independently.  Rumour has it there is “a burnable book”, a treasonous tract the contents of which could overthrow the monarchy and threaten the stability of the whole country.

Enter John Gower, part-time poet and friend of Geoffrey Chaucer who has requested Gower’s help in tracking down this dangerous tome.  What follows is a well paced but complex story with many twists and  turns.  Equally complex is the vast range of characters, both real-life and fictional, and I was grateful for the list of characters at the front of the novel in order to frequently remind myself who was who.   Holsinger is well respected in the area of medieval research, as attested by his back catalogue of 6 non-fiction works in this field.  Such expertise is evident in the ease with which he brings alive the sights, sounds and smells of medieval London.

This is an accomplished debut novel reminiscent of the sprawling narratives of Ken Follett and C J Sansom.  It is slightly too detailed and convoluted for my liking but I think that Bruce Holsinger’s first foray into fiction will win him lots of new fans.


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  1. Helen says:

    I enjoyed this book but keeping track of the characters was definitely a problem! I was constantly having to turn back to the list at the front.

  2. Josie says:

    Hi Treez – This one has been on my book radar for a while now – sounds like it would be my cuppa tea !

  3. Teresa says:

    The character list was invaluable Helen. Maybe it’s a sign of age (in my case not yours of course!) that I had to keep consulting it but it did interrupt the narrative flow for me.

  4. admin says:

    I think you’d really enjoy it, Josie. It looks like it will be a very successful series – I, unfortunately, lack the commitment for reading series!

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