Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Blog Tour (Review & Giveaway): Dark Aemilia by Sally O'Reilly

Title: Dark Aemilia: A Novel of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady
Sally O'Reilly
Publisher: Picador (Macmillan)
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Acquired Via: Historical Fiction Blog Tours


The daughter of a Venetian musician, Aemilia Bassano came of age in Queen Elizabeth’s royal court. The Queen’s favorite, she develops a love of poetry and learning, maturing into a young woman known not only for her beauty but also her sharp mind and quick tongue. Aemilia becomes the mistress of Lord Hunsdon, but her position is precarious. Then she crosses paths with an impetuous playwright named William Shakespeare and begins an impassioned but ill-fated affair.

A decade later, the Queen is dead, and Aemilia Bassano is now Aemilia Lanyer, fallen from favor and married to a fool. Like the rest of London, she fears the plague. And when her young son Henry takes ill, Aemilia resolves to do anything to save him, even if it means seeking help from her estranged lover, Will—or worse, making a pact with the Devil himself.

In rich, vivid detail, Sally O’Reilly breathes life into England’s first female poet, a mysterious woman nearly forgotten by history. Full of passion and devilish schemes, Dark Aemilia is a tale worthy of the Bard.

Selected by O, The Oprah Magazine as one of 17 Books You Won’t Be Able To Put Down!

My Review

I have never read anything by Aemilia Lanyer that I can recall, but I was interested in Sally O'Reilly's Dark Aemilia because of the Elizabethan setting. While I enjoyed the setting and Aemilia as a character, I must warn you that the book had some fairly graphic scenes that I found difficult to read.

The Aemilia portrayed in Dark Aemilia is the kind of character that I like to read. She had a lot of depth, and while being a creature of her time period, she strove to rise above her circumstances. There are some questionable things that happened later in the novel, but people were superstitious in that time period. The use of the paranormal made sense in setting the mood for the novel, and Aemilia's usage of it helped develop her character.

I do want to touch on the graphic nature of Dark Aemilia. I like to think that I'm not prudish, but there was a lot of... Well, you get the idea. There is one scene where a character is essentially raped that almost made me put down the book. I did step away from it for a few days. I am aware the sex is used fairly often in historical novels, be they considered "romance" or not, but the sexual atmosphere of Dark Aemilia was not for me.

That being said, I enjoyed the aspects of the novel that did not involve the various characters making the beast with two backs. (See the Shakespearean reference there? *nudges you*) The writing was gorgeous and O'Reilly made it easy for me to imagine myself in the time period. And if I was still in college and obsessed with highbrow writing, I would have been in hog heaven with Dark Aemilia. There was a lot of slang from the turn of the seventeenth century and it kept me on my toes.

If you're looking for a clever historical fiction novel with a touch of supernatural and don't mind a little graphic sex, I can almost guarantee you'll enjoy Dark Aemilia. The writing is beautiful, and Aemilia is a fascinating creature to observe.

Be sure to also check out Sally's guest post featured on Bibliophilia, Please HERE!

- 3/5 Stars -

Buy Links
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

About the Author

Sally O’Reilly has received numerous citations for her fiction, which has been shortlisted for the Ian St James Short Story Prize and the Cosmopolitan Short Story Award. A former Cosmopolitan New Journalist of the Year, her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Sunday Times, the Evening Standard, and the New Scientist. She teaches creative writing at the Open University and the University of Portsmouth in England. Dark Aemilia is her U.S. debut.

Website | Facebook

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 18
Review at The Bookworm

Tuesday, August 19
Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, August 20
Guest Post at Bibliophilia, Please

Thursday, August 21
Spotlight at Princess of Eboli

Monday, August 25
Review at The Mad Reviewer
Review & Giveaway at Curling Up By the Fire

Tuesday, August 26
Review & Giveaway at Poof Books

Thursday, August 28
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Sunday, August 31
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, September 1
Review at Book Drunkard
Giveaway at Carole’s Ramblings

Tuesday, September 2
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, September 3
Review & Giveaway at Bibliophilia, Please

Friday, September 5
Review at Awesome Book Assessment

Tuesday, September 9
Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, September 10
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, September 11
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, September 16
Review & Giveaway at Bookish

Wednesday, September 17
Review & Giveaway at Casual Readers

Friday, September 19
Review & Giveaway at Book Nerd

Monday, September 22
Review at A Book Geek

Tuesday, September 23
Review & Giveaway at Beth’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, September 24
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Friday, September 26
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Sunday, September 28
Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Monday, September 29
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Book Dilettante


Enter to win one of five (5) copies of Dark Aemilia by Sally O'Reilly!
Open to US & Canada ONLY
Ends at 12:01am EST on September 30th

a Rafflecopter giveaway
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing That I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me.


  1. Thanks for this fascinating and enthralling giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. It's all thanks to the wonderful people at Picador!

  2. What a great addition to add to my Fall reading collection!! Yes Please!

  3. This sounds really interesting. I don't mind graphic sex scenes when done well. Rape is hard to read about I think no matter your position on sex scenes!

    1. The sex scenes are not my favorite, but I don't mind them if they're well-written. Rape is usually my instant stopping point, and I still don't know why I was able to stick with this one. I guess it was the gorgeous writing. :-)

  4. Dark Aemilia sounds like a fascinating historical fiction novel. I am intrigued and would like to read this book. Thank you

    1. It was very fascinating. I wish you the best of luck on winning!

  5. This one sounds totally fascinating. Would love to read it!

    Thank you for the chance to win :)

  6. What a fascinating book! I have added it to my TBR list. Thanks for the great giveaway.


You are going to put words in my box?! *squeezes you* Now I shall stalk YOUR blog!