A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Locksmith's Daughter by Karen Brooks- Feature and Review


From acclaimed author Karen Brooks comes this intriguing novel rich in historical detail and drama as it tells the unforgettable story of Queen Elizabeth's daring, ruthless spymaster and his female protégée.

In Queen Elizabeth's England, where no one can be trusted and secrets are currency, one woman stands without fear.

Mallory Bright is the only daughter of London's most ingenious locksmith. She has apprenticed with her father since childhood, and there is no lock too elaborate for her to crack. After scandal destroys her reputation, Mallory has returned to her father's home and lives almost as a recluse, ignoring the whispers and gossip of their neighbors. But Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth's spymaster and a frequent client of Mallory's father, draws her into his world of danger and deception. For the locksmith's daughter is not only good at cracking locks, she also has a talent for codes, spycraft, and intrigue. With Mallory by Sir Francis’s side, no scheme in England or abroad is safe from discovery.

But Mallory's loyalty wavers when she witnesses the brutal and bloody public execution of three Jesuit priests and realizes the human cost of her espionage. And later, when she discovers the identity of a Catholic spy and a conspiracy that threatens the kingdom, she is forced to choose between her country and her heart.

Once Sir Francis's greatest asset, Mallory is fast becoming his worst threat—and there is only one way the Queen’s master spy deals with his enemies…



The Locksmith's DaughterThe Locksmith's Daughter by Karen Brooks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Locksmith’s Daughter by Karen Brooks is a 2018 William Morrow publication.
A skillfully crafted novel of historical fiction-

Mallory Bright’s unorthodox upbringing paves the way for her in unexpected ways when she makes a grave error in judgement and finds her reputation in ruins.

As the daughter of a locksmith, Mallory was taught the trade by her father, much to her mother’s intense dismay. But Mallory would never have guessed that her talents would lead her to the queen’s personal spymaster or that she’d become his protégé and most valued asset.

This Elizabethan historical drama is chock full of intrigue, vivid, authentic settings and details, heartbreak, and heart pounding suspense, with an unconventional love story capping it off.
This book was much more than I anticipated. The acute religious strife regarding Catholics and Protestants is at the center of the story. Sir Francis Walsingham – a true historical figure- is obsessed with maintaining protestant power over Catholicism. To that end, his training and directives to Mallory were to flush out Catholic spies. Mallory is a much better student than her master could have hoped for. But when she witnesses the results of her handiwork, her heart and mind are conflicted.

“I saw no traitors plotting to bring down a queen, only desperate people; people whose world was in disarray and who felt threatened. Who prayed to the same God, only differently. Did this make what they were doing illegal?”

To complicate matters, Mallory learns some shocking revelations about her own past and struggles to tolerate Nathaniel- an obnoxious friend of a friend, who knows entirely too much about her work with Sir Francis, but who may well be the only person who can help her.

This period in history is so interesting. I never tire of reading novels set during the Elizabethan era. This story highlights the fevered religious paranoia towards Catholics. It was not entirely justified, but there were very serious and real dangers to the throne posed by Catholic spies. The book also touched on the impact the “Bartholomew's Day massacre” had on Sir Francis, which is what helped to fuel his prejudice against Catholics. There was a lot of tension, misinformation, and confusion regarding religion. The fear increased as more assassination attempts on Queen Elizabeth rose. Public executions, such as those described in this novel did indeed occur.

The author did an amazing job of recreating that tension and highlighting the moral dilemmas and atrocities that occurred in the name of religion and politics. The Locksmithing craft and the clever spy codes of the day is very interesting and fascinating. But, the characterizations in this novel are what sets it on a higher pedestal. Mallory is an outstanding personality. Her loyalty, her strength, talent and courage captured my imagination. She is quite the heroine. Nathaniel is truly nasty, in the beginning, but I grew to love him, and loved him even more for loving Mallory. Their love story is not at the center of the novel, but in many ways, it is at the heart of it – maybe even the soul of it. With so many villainous acts, so many selfish and manipulative plots afoot, with the danger at a fever pitch, their relationship lit the way to honor, bravery and hope.

This is a not only a stunning historical novel, but, a compelling story of the true meaning of love and family.

Note: This book was originally published back in 2016 by Harlequin MIRA. Some may have been given the impression this is a traditional historical romance, but it is not. It is pure Historical fiction- with a love story written into it. HF lovers will not want to miss this book!!




                                                       ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 The Locksmith’s Daughter, a Renaissance spy story was published to positive critical and popular acclaim in 2018 by William Morrow publishing. In 2018, her next book, The Chocolate Maker’s Wife, which is set during the Restoration of Charles II, will be published in Australia and New Zealand, coming out in the US and UK in 2019.


  1. Loved all the books by this talented author. Pure talent.

  2. This was my first book by this author, but it will not be my last! Very talented, indeed! Thank you for stopping by The Book Review!


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