Book Review | Rizzio

I have actually read a book that I intended to read…a couple months later than anticipated but I’ve been looking forward to it for a while so I’m glad I finally made time for it.

Denise Mina

From the multi-award-winning master of crime, Denise Mina delivers a radical new take on one of the darkest episodes in Scottish history—the bloody assassination of David Rizzio  private secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots, in the queen’s chambers in Holyrood Palace.

On the evening of March 9th, 1566, David Rizzio, the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots, was brutally murdered. Dragged from the chamber of the heavily pregnant Mary, Rizzio was stabbed fifty six times by a party of assassins. This breathtakingly tense novella dramatises the events that led up to that night, telling the infamous story as it has never been told before.

A dark tale of sex, secrets and lies, Rizzio looks at a shocking historical murder through a modern lens—and explores the lengths that men and women will go to in their search for love and power.

Rizzio is nothing less than a provocative and thrilling new literary masterpiece. | Goodreads | Amazon

I had the pleasure of seeing the author Denise Mina at the Edinburgh Book Festival last year when she was there to discuss Rizzio and I knew that I had to get my hands on this book after hearing her talk about it. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to read it but also I’m glad that the details weren’t so distinct in my mind so that I could immerse myself in the story without already having too much of it already in my head.

This is a short and sharp snapshot of a pretty gruesome moment in Scottish history, I will admit that it is a time period that I know shockingly little about and one that I wouldn’t usually gravitate toward, but I quite enjoyed that the story focused right in on this one important occurrence and told it in such an engaging and dynamic way. It’s surprising that the author has managed to pack so much into so few pages, but it really works, you get the drama and suspense and tension of the story straight away and are gripped tight until the end, without the need to over-explain who every person is and how they have come to be at this point.

The chapters switch between different character perspectives which I liked, it adds to the urgency of the book due to the nature of what it is exploring; the assassination of Rizzio and what happens to Mary Queen of Scots in the aftermath; but also it brings life to characters who are usually discussed in a more factual one-dimensional way. Especially as there were many that I had never heard of, so getting their perspectives and seeing some personality really helped me to get a feel for how much impact this moment had and what its consequences were.

I have to say I am quite excited to read some more Denise Mina books now because I really enjoyed the writing style in this book and I’m also excited to read the next installments of the Darkland Tales, the series of dramatic retellings of stories from Scotland’s history to which this book belongs.

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