As the Dark Ages reign over England, Julian an ordinary village boy is condemned for Charlotte's mysterious murder, his wife and to his surprise—a princess of royal blood. Oblivious of the presence of a centuries old demon, Julian is imprisoned in Elijah's inescapable dungeon where he waits for the injustice of a gruesome death. But when the young man is rescued at the hands of an unexpected guardian...he learns of his role as salvatoris liberet—the single truth that will alter his destiny forever. As alliances form, secrets unfold, and enemies reveal themselves, Julian must decide who to trust and how far he is willing to go for the only woman he's ever loved.
Charlotte's Secrets is the debut novel from Maryam Malik, and yet it feels like we've been reading her work forever. The story is visual and enveloping, taking you straight from your living room to the Dark Ages on page one.
The story feels similar to the BBC's interpretation of Robin Hood: the girl is murdered and her lover is accused. The big difference between Julian and Guy of Gisborne, however, is that Julian is innocent. He's a determined character, one whom you root for from the beginning. He's romantic, a hero and very endearing.
The characters he meets along his journey run the gamut from interesting to dangerous to diabolical. Ms. Malik easily weaves magic and paranormal elements into the tale, creating a unique world of death, love and magic.
I loved the desperation in Julian's heart, his deep love for the princess. Love drives this story, and it is that, not the thriller elements, that make this worth reading. I love it when a male lead wears his heart on his sleeve!
My only criticism is that I'd love to have seen it written in the third person, so we could've seen different perspectives from all characters, especially the queen.
An excellent debut; I see a very long career in literature for Ms. Malik!
4/5--a great debut!
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