Of the many Tudor-era historical novels, it may be safe to say that only a fraction focus on the court of Mary, Queen of Scots. The Flower Reader is an enticing novel that follows the story of a young woman who gets caught up in the murder, mystery and intrigue of the court when she becomes an unwitting recipient of a silver casket entrusted to her by Mary of Guise.
It is a casket that many powerful people in Europe would kill to have but is meant only for Mary, Queen of Scots. The young woman’s task is to make sure that the casket is delivered safely into the young queen’s hands.
Rinette Leslie is gifted with the ability to read flowers, known as floromancy. She intends to deliver the casket to the queen and then return to the peace and safety of her beloved Granmuir on the coast. However, word gets out that the casket is in her possession, and Rinette and everyone she loves suddenly find themselves in danger.
After a brutal murder in her family shakes Rinette to her very core, she must rely on her unusual ability to determine who she can and cannot trust at court. She becomes focused solely on revenge and bringing the killer to justice, withholding the casket as a bargaining chip to get assistance from the queen. However, she pays a terrible price for her bribery.
The Flower Reader has all the suspense, romance and drama that historical fiction fans expect. While Rinette is vulnerable in many ways because of her gender, she also proves to be a formidable and cunning woman who is willing to fight to keep what she loves. She is a fascinating heroine, and the reader cannot help but root for her to triumph over all the difficulties that she faces.
I enjoyed this novel very much. The floromancy is subtly woven into the story, an essential part of Rinette’s character but not overdone. Despite the combination of fictional characters and actual historical figures, the novel is believable and enthralling. I highly recommend this read to fans of historical fiction.