ARC Review: The Drowned City by K J Maitland


1606. A year to the day that men were executed for conspiring to blow up Parliament, a towering wave devastates the Bristol Channel. Some proclaim God’s vengeance. Others seek to take advantage.

In London, Daniel Pursglove lies in prison waiting to die. But Charles FitzAlan, close adviser to King James I, has a job in mind that will free a man of Daniel’s skill from the horrors of Newgate. If he succeeds.

For Bristol is a hotbed of Catholic spies, and where better for the lone conspirator who evaded arrest, one Spero Pettingar, to gather allies than in the chaos of a drowned city? Daniel journeys there to investigate FitzAlan’s lead, but soon finds himself at the heart of a dark Jesuit conspiracy – and in pursuit of a killer.


What an amazing opening chapter to a story, a giant tidal wave is about to wreak devastation to the south-west of England.  The suspense and tension the author creates in this opening scene is brilliantly accomplished and I was glued to the pages.  The tidal wave destroys homes, businesses and the lives of animals, livestock and countless humans in its path.  It is suspected witchcraft is at play or possibly God’s own hand?

Plucked out of the bowels of Newgate Prison where he is awaiting a death sentence, Daniel Pursglove is sent on a mission for King James.  He has been assigned to try to track down the remaining traitor in the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1606 and investigate what is happening in the drowned city of Bristol.  He is to report back to the King and in exchange he will get his freedom.  In Bristol, Pursglove unintentionally stumbles across several suspicious murders and becomes involved in investigating and unravelling the mystery of these deaths. Compelling, full of danger and intrigue and I loved how a fictional story is woven around real-life events.

The author brilliantly sets the scene of the era, it is so rich in historical detail and absolutely fascinating.  The narrative is powerful and portrays in detail the grim realities of early Jacobean life.  I really felt as if I was living within the pages of this novel.  It travels at quite a slow pace but the plot is well structured and intriguing with enough twists and turns to keep the reader captivated.      

The characters are all well drawn and the author had an incredible way of bringing these characters to life. I really liked Daniel Pursglove’s characterisation and particularly enjoyed following along with his murder investigation.  I’m looking forward to seeing his character development in the continuation of this series.

The Drowning City is an informative and interesting read.  The ‘Behind the Scenes of this Novel’ at the back of the book documents that a huge wave did in fact flood the coasts of the Bristol Chanel and some of the surrounding regions.  The glossary, also at the back of the novel, provides a useful insight into the terminology of the era.  A wonderful combination of history, mystery and adventure and I look forward to the next instalment.

Publisher:  Headline Review
Publication Date (UK): 1 April 2021
Series:  Daniel Pursglove #1
Format:  Hardback 
Page Count:  411
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thank you to the publisher for the beautiful advanced copy of this book to review.

I hope you enjoyed this review.  For my current reads, recommendations and anything else book related, please follow me on Instagram , Goodreads or Twitter

Please do not hesitate to comment below if you liked my review or have any comments about this book 😊 

Happy reading!


Twisted in Pages Blog

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