The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau is a historical fiction novel by one of my favorite authors of this genre. Bilyeau writes the type of detailed historical fiction that makes you feel like you are a part of another era, and fully immerses you in her character’s lives. Excellent author to take a historical journey with, and this book is no exception.
“In the midst of England’s Reformation, a young novice will risk everything to defy the most powerful men of her era.
In 1538, England’s bloody power struggle between crown and cross threatens to tear the country apart. Novice Joanna Stafford has tasted the wrath of the royal court, discovered what lies within the king’s torture rooms, and escaped death at the hands of those desperate to possess the power of an ancient relic.
Even with all she has experienced, the quiet life is not for Joanna. Despite the possibilities of arrest and imprisonment, she becomes caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting Henry VIII himself. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna realizes her role is more critical than she’d ever imagined. She must choose between those she loves most and assuming her part in a prophecy foretold by three seers. Repelled by violence, Joanna seizes a future with a man who loves her. But no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape the spreading darkness of her destiny.
To learn the final, sinister piece of the prophecy, she flees across Europe with a corrupt spy sent by Spain. As she completes the puzzle in the dungeon of a twelfth-century Belgian fortress, Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christendom are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lies at the center of these deadly prophecies…” – The Chalice
The Chalice is the story of Joanna Stafford, an aristocratic nun whose life is crashing down around her, thanks to King Henry VIII. She is highly intelligent, cunning, and has an outstanding personality that makes the reader truly care about her as a character. She gets highly involved with plots for political and religious power, but the choice of her actions is all hers.
The author did excellent research for this book, and you can really tell she took time to know what she was writing about as you read it. You’ll get an amazing story form her, but you will also learn about the royal court, ladies in waiting, religion, prophecies, and much more in this book.
This is marvelously crafted book that will keep you reading until you have to put it down, so be sure to set large amounts of time away before you get started! I love this book and definitely recommend it to all historical fiction lovers, and those who just like a good book.
* Thank you to the publisher of The Chalice, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.