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A queen, a castle, a dark and ageless threat--all await Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes in this chilling new adventure. The queen is Marie of Roumania: the doubly royal granddaughter to Victoria, Empress of the British Empire, and Alexander II, Tsar of Russia. A famous beauty who was married at seventeen into Roumania's young dynasty, Marie had beguiled the Paris Peace Con A queen, a castle, a dark and ageless threat--all await Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes in this chilling new adventure. The queen is Marie of Roumania: the doubly royal granddaughter to Victoria, Empress of the British Empire, and Alexander II, Tsar of Russia. A famous beauty who was married at seventeen into Roumania's young dynasty, Marie had beguiled the Paris Peace Conference into returning her adopted country's long-lost provinces, single-handedly transforming Roumania from a backwater into a force. The castle is Bran: a tall, quirky, ancient structure perched on high rocks overlooking the border between Roumania and its newly regained territory of Transylvania. The castle was a gift to Queen Marie, a thanks from her people, and she loves it as she loves her own children. The threat is...now, that is less clear. Shadowy figures, vague whispers, the fears of girls, dangers that may only be accidents. But this is a land of long memory and hidden corners, a land that had known Vlad the Impaler, a land from whose churchyards the shades creep. When Queen Marie calls, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are as dubious as they are reluctant. But a young girl is involved, and a beautiful queen. Surely it won't take long to shine light on this unlikely case of what would seem to be strigoi? Or, as they are known in the West...vampires.


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A queen, a castle, a dark and ageless threat--all await Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes in this chilling new adventure. The queen is Marie of Roumania: the doubly royal granddaughter to Victoria, Empress of the British Empire, and Alexander II, Tsar of Russia. A famous beauty who was married at seventeen into Roumania's young dynasty, Marie had beguiled the Paris Peace Con A queen, a castle, a dark and ageless threat--all await Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes in this chilling new adventure. The queen is Marie of Roumania: the doubly royal granddaughter to Victoria, Empress of the British Empire, and Alexander II, Tsar of Russia. A famous beauty who was married at seventeen into Roumania's young dynasty, Marie had beguiled the Paris Peace Conference into returning her adopted country's long-lost provinces, single-handedly transforming Roumania from a backwater into a force. The castle is Bran: a tall, quirky, ancient structure perched on high rocks overlooking the border between Roumania and its newly regained territory of Transylvania. The castle was a gift to Queen Marie, a thanks from her people, and she loves it as she loves her own children. The threat is...now, that is less clear. Shadowy figures, vague whispers, the fears of girls, dangers that may only be accidents. But this is a land of long memory and hidden corners, a land that had known Vlad the Impaler, a land from whose churchyards the shades creep. When Queen Marie calls, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are as dubious as they are reluctant. But a young girl is involved, and a beautiful queen. Surely it won't take long to shine light on this unlikely case of what would seem to be strigoi? Or, as they are known in the West...vampires.

30 review for Castle Shade

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 A series I've long admired. Sherlock Holmes of course, the man who always manages to pull the rabbit out of the air, make deductions from random, often to me, meaningless clues. Mary Russell, is all a worthy, interesting companion. This series is more than a mystery, combines elements of a travelogue and a solid historical. We are introduced to historical characters of which I have read little. Last outing took us to Monaco, this one to Transylvania, where we meet Queen Marie of Roumania. Kin 3.5 A series I've long admired. Sherlock Holmes of course, the man who always manages to pull the rabbit out of the air, make deductions from random, often to me, meaningless clues. Mary Russell, is all a worthy, interesting companion. This series is more than a mystery, combines elements of a travelogue and a solid historical. We are introduced to historical characters of which I have read little. Last outing took us to Monaco, this one to Transylvania, where we meet Queen Marie of Roumania. King brings the reader into the setting, which are always described with an attention to detail. For some reason though, I found this mystery less to my liking than others in her last writings. Don't really know why, but I just couldn't connect. Still I loved the history, the details and look forward to the next installment. ARC from Netgalley.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Darlene

    I love this series and this book is no exception. This time, Holmes and Mary are off to Bran Castle in Transylvania at the bequest of the queen. They must solve the mysterious threat to her only daughter before things escalate. The multiple mysteries are a real treat. Is there really a ghost in the castle? Who sent the letter to the queen? Is someone pretending to be the ghost of a local soldier to scare the castle maids? The author layers all of these together into one exquisite, heart-thumping I love this series and this book is no exception. This time, Holmes and Mary are off to Bran Castle in Transylvania at the bequest of the queen. They must solve the mysterious threat to her only daughter before things escalate. The multiple mysteries are a real treat. Is there really a ghost in the castle? Who sent the letter to the queen? Is someone pretending to be the ghost of a local soldier to scare the castle maids? The author layers all of these together into one exquisite, heart-thumping tale. She kept me on my toes. As soon as I thought I figured out one mystery, she threw another at me. I will recommend this series to all my mystery-loving friends. Thank you NetGally and Random House Publishing Group for the chance to read and review this advanced ready copy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    This may be my new favorite book of this wonderful series. The book starts with a humorous exchange between Mary Russell and her husband Sherlock as she initiates a solution for getting off a train they are stuck on and transfer to another that will get them to their destination more efficiently, a new assignment in Roumania. They are needed by Queen Victoria's granddaughter, Queen Marie, at her Castle Bran. They prepare themselves to enter the Transylvanian world where vampire myths are held tr This may be my new favorite book of this wonderful series. The book starts with a humorous exchange between Mary Russell and her husband Sherlock as she initiates a solution for getting off a train they are stuck on and transfer to another that will get them to their destination more efficiently, a new assignment in Roumania. They are needed by Queen Victoria's granddaughter, Queen Marie, at her Castle Bran. They prepare themselves to enter the Transylvanian world where vampire myths are held true by many inhabitants. They plan to present themselves as consultants in architecture as the queen is having a great deal of work done on the castle. Once welcomed and settled in a comfortable suite they make their plans to investigate what is behind sightings and strange happenings of the vampire variety. Sherlock has to go off to meet with Mycroft's wishes whilst Mary sets off on her evening reconnaissance missions. It is a most unpleasant situation she finds herself in. With no wish to spoil the book for others, I will only say there are many mental and physical challenges for both detectives during this action-filled book. I really enjoyed the novelty of having Queen Marie featured in this book and had fun looking up information on her life as well as the Castle Bran. Thanks to Random House through Net Galley for this advanced reader copy. Watch for it early June!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    On the whole, I am hugely enthusiastic about Laurie R. King's Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series, but I haven't enjoyed the last few novels as much as previous ones. Maybe it's the lack of Russell and Holmes working together. Maybe the settings just haven't been places I'd want to be transported to. But Castle Shade is up there with the best of the series. Castle Shade juggles some classic horror tropes with a keen-eyed examination of European politics post-WWI European politics. We get conc On the whole, I am hugely enthusiastic about Laurie R. King's Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series, but I haven't enjoyed the last few novels as much as previous ones. Maybe it's the lack of Russell and Holmes working together. Maybe the settings just haven't been places I'd want to be transported to. But Castle Shade is up there with the best of the series. Castle Shade juggles some classic horror tropes with a keen-eyed examination of European politics post-WWI European politics. We get concerns about vampires, about the disappearances of young women. We also get Queen Marie of Romania, a politically astute grandchild of both Queen Victoria and Tsar Alexander II of Russia. These two worlds collide at Castle Bran—Marie's favorite retreat located on the border of Romania and the recently reannexed Transylvania. Is this mystery paranormal or political? Not even Russell and Holmes are sure. If you love the Russell-Holmes series, you'll be reading this novel regardless of my review, but if it's a series that is new to you or it's one that you haven't kept up with, Castle Shade offers an excellent opportunity to bring yourself back into the fold. I received a free electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Barb in Maryland

    Great fun! Read the blurb for an excellent set-up for the story. Someone is definitely trying to stir up the residents of Bran and turn them against their beloved Queen by setting rumors in motion that she is behind a number of mysterious events. However, our villain didn't count on Mary and Holmes doing their best to stop the rumors before they could get started. All in all, another satisfying mystery and a wonderful time spent with one of my favorite detecting duos. Bonus points for the painless Great fun! Read the blurb for an excellent set-up for the story. Someone is definitely trying to stir up the residents of Bran and turn them against their beloved Queen by setting rumors in motion that she is behind a number of mysterious events. However, our villain didn't count on Mary and Holmes doing their best to stop the rumors before they could get started. All in all, another satisfying mystery and a wonderful time spent with one of my favorite detecting duos. Bonus points for the painless lesson in Balkan politics and the introduction to a fabulous woman. Note: the author has had Russell and Holmes bouncing around Europe for several books now: Venice (Island of the Mad), Southern France/Monaco (Riviera Gold) and now this foray into Romania. When ever will they return to England? I'll be on hand when the next book comes out--wherever she sends them.

  6. 5 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Transylvania fears! Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes leave the Côte d’Azur (see Riviera Gold) and forge onward to Roumania, “a place where the maps have ‘Here be dragons.’” Actually they are heading for a village near to Brasov and Queen Marie’s favourite castle. ”Castle Bran in the Transylvania hills [that] has everything one could wish, including it seems witches, vampires and things that go bump in the night.” They’ve come at the bequest of Queen Marie, a granddaughter of Victoria. It also appe Transylvania fears! Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes leave the Côte d’Azur (see Riviera Gold) and forge onward to Roumania, “a place where the maps have ‘Here be dragons.’” Actually they are heading for a village near to Brasov and Queen Marie’s favourite castle. ”Castle Bran in the Transylvania hills [that] has everything one could wish, including it seems witches, vampires and things that go bump in the night.” They’ve come at the bequest of Queen Marie, a granddaughter of Victoria. It also appears that Sherlock had been this way when he’d been absent during Mary’s time in the Riviera. Both journies enabled by Mycroft to ensure that the Queen is not being targeted by groups determined to be rid of her. (Interestingly by now May and Sherlock have come to the decision that Mycroft needs to stop interfering with their lives. I sense a thoughtfulness from Sherlock about Mary as his wife and what that means that I haven’t detected before.) Dangers are apparent. People have seen strange happenings, witches and shadowy figures are whispered about. The locals are hanging garlic and sharpening wooden stakes. When one of the Queen’s maids disappears and rumours start up about the Queen maintaining her youthfulness by drinking the blood of virgins, quick and decisive action is needed. All very tricky and Bram Stocker. Another fascinating episode in the lives of Russell and Sherlock. A Random - Ballantine ARC via NetGalley Please note: Quotes taken from an advanced reading copy maybe subject to change

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne Adamek

    My only problem with the book was that it was too short!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Juliew.

    I've often looked for books on Queen Marie of Roumania and was so glad when I found this one.Doubly so because it turned out to be such an entertaining story.This is part of a series told by Mary Russell,Sherlock Holmes's wife and in this installment they investigate strange,creepy and dangerous happenings at Castle Bran in Transylvania.I loved the pacing,the writing and never guessed the culprit until the very end.I thought it was good too that I had never read any of the other books but everyt I've often looked for books on Queen Marie of Roumania and was so glad when I found this one.Doubly so because it turned out to be such an entertaining story.This is part of a series told by Mary Russell,Sherlock Holmes's wife and in this installment they investigate strange,creepy and dangerous happenings at Castle Bran in Transylvania.I loved the pacing,the writing and never guessed the culprit until the very end.I thought it was good too that I had never read any of the other books but everything was still understandable.I will definitely be purchasing some others in this captivating series.Much thanks to Netgalley for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tony Hisgett

    At times I found this a bit frustrating to read, what I enjoy about these books is the way a case is analysed, systematically pulled apart and problems solved. With this book I never felt like they were making any progress and Mary seemed particularly ineffective. There is more happening in the last quarter of the book and there is a satisfactory conclusion to the story, but it is not one of the best in the series.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    CASTLE SHADE by Laurie King I do love a good story with a satisfying ending! . . . in Transylvania! CASTLE SHADE layered modern plots with echoes of old tales and beliefs, with so many twists, so many possible causes. Myriad puzzles challenged the combined and separate efforts of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. Ghosts, witches, vampires, wolves, strega, and human enemies seemed to be trying, inexplicably, to drive Queen Marie from her castle and turn her people against her. References to Bram CASTLE SHADE by Laurie King I do love a good story with a satisfying ending! . . . in Transylvania! CASTLE SHADE layered modern plots with echoes of old tales and beliefs, with so many twists, so many possible causes. Myriad puzzles challenged the combined and separate efforts of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. Ghosts, witches, vampires, wolves, strega, and human enemies seemed to be trying, inexplicably, to drive Queen Marie from her castle and turn her people against her. References to Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, Polidori’s THE VAMPYRE (which I had not read, but found worth the search) and other tales added to the eerie atmosphere. These adventures increased my already high respect for the courage and intelligence of the heroic Russell, and for her compassion as well. Reentry into the real world came gradually, feeling still partly immersed in the intrigues in Roumania afterward. I confess to lost sleep and neglected chores, time well-spent, with no regrets except that I didn’t want it to end. Fervently hoping for more adventures in the future. What a team they make! Coming in June, so if you haven’t read the earlier books in the series, there’s time.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    Mary and Sherlock are off to Transylvania to seek out vampires on behalf of the half Russian/half British Queen Marie of Romania. The Queen is concerned that her daughter may be in danger. There are strange goings-on around her Castle Bran. This feels like a gothic tale with ghosts and unexplained happenings. There are exceptionally long passages describing every nook and cranny of Castle Bran which may or may not interest the reader. It took up pages but added nothing to the story. I like Mary R Mary and Sherlock are off to Transylvania to seek out vampires on behalf of the half Russian/half British Queen Marie of Romania. The Queen is concerned that her daughter may be in danger. There are strange goings-on around her Castle Bran. This feels like a gothic tale with ghosts and unexplained happenings. There are exceptionally long passages describing every nook and cranny of Castle Bran which may or may not interest the reader. It took up pages but added nothing to the story. I like Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes together but there is not a lot of action for most of the 357 pages of this book. Sorry to say I found it disappointing.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Ray

    Sherlock Holmes with his new partner, Mary Russell. Good stories. Likeable characters. Each book is distinct: set in many and varied physical, social, religious, linguistic, and literary environments. WWI, anti-colonial struggles, natural disasters; prominent real people, occasional fictional characters of other authors. Insightful and fun! Seventeen novels plus short stories, and they keep getting more compelling: Later books build on, and have spoilers for, earlier ones. Read them in this orde Sherlock Holmes with his new partner, Mary Russell. Good stories. Likeable characters. Each book is distinct: set in many and varied physical, social, religious, linguistic, and literary environments. WWI, anti-colonial struggles, natural disasters; prominent real people, occasional fictional characters of other authors. Insightful and fun! Seventeen novels plus short stories, and they keep getting more compelling: Later books build on, and have spoilers for, earlier ones. Read them in this order: 1 background, optional. A Study in Scarlet (novel, 1887, introduces Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. John Watson), The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter (short story, 1893, introduces Mycroft Holmes), The Adventure of the Final Problem (short story, 1893, introduces Professor James Moriarty), The Adventure of the Empty House (short story, 1903, set in 1894, explains Holmes' doings 1891–1894), and The Adventure of the Lion's Mane (short story, 1926, Holmes has retired to Sussex), by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930). Some familiarity with the Conan Doyle stories makes the Holmes-and-Russell books more enjoyable. 1. The Beekeeper's Apprentice (1994. Events 1915.04.08–1919.07, England, Wales, Palestine). Sherlock Holmes (b. early 1861), retired to the East Sussex Downs, meets young Mary Russell (b. 1900.01.02), who becomes his apprentice. Purported to have been written by Mary Russell in the late 1980s. Holmes on 1915.04.08 says he's 54, and on 1920.12.26 that he's 59. Holmes lives half a mile from the sea (book 9, The Language of Bees, chapters 1 & 8) near Birling Gap, in East Sussex, https://www.google.com/maps/@50.8,0.0... northeast of the mouth of the Cuckmere river: puts him about at the end of Crowlink Lane, southwest of Friston. 5. O Jerusalem (1999. Events 1918.12.30–1919.02, Palestine). Fifth-written and fifth-published Mary Russel/Sherlock Holmes novel, fleshes out an interlude in book one. It's also a prequel for book six. If you're reading the Kindle edition of /O Jerusalem/, start at the cover. Before the table of contents are: Map of Jerusalem and of Palestine; Arabic Words and Phrases; A Note about Chapter Headings; "Editor's Remarks," "Author's Prologue." Quiz for O Jerusalem: https://www.goodreads.com/trivia/work... 2. A Monstrous Regiment of Women (1995. Events 1920.12.26–1921.06, England.) Mary Russel's War (2016. Events 1906–1925. Ten short stories. Stories #1–9 can be read after book 2, A Monstrous Regiment of Women. Story #10, Stately Holmes, should be read after book 12, Garment of Shadows.) "The Marriage of Mary Russell" (2016. Events 1921.02), short story #4 of 10 in /Mary Russell's War/ (2016). Ozymandias (1818, Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792–1822): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozymand... Quiz for The Marriage of Mary Russell: https://www.goodreads.com/trivia/work... "Mary's Christmas" (2014), short story #1 of 10 in /Mary Russell's War/, (2016). Mary reminisces about her childhood (1906–1913.12) Background for "Mary Russell's War," very optional. The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist (short story, 1903), and The Valley of Fear (novel, 1915), Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930); Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman (1899), E.W. Hornung (1866–1921) https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4... "Mary Russell's War" or "My War Journal" (2015. Events of 1914.08.04–1915.04.08), short story #2 of 10 in the collection, /Mary Russell's War/ (2016). Includes spoilers for The Valley of Fear. "Beekeeping for Beginners" (2011. Events 1915.04.08–1915.05), short story #3 of 10 in /Mary Russell's War/ (2016). Quiz for Beekeeping for Beginners: https://www.goodreads.com/trivia/work... "Mrs. Hudson's Case" (1997. Events 1918.09–1918.10), short story #5 of 10 in /Mary Russell's War/ (2016). "A Venomous Death" (2009. Set in October, in or after 1921), very short story #6 in /Mary Russell's War/ (2016). "Birth of a Green Man" (2010. Set sometime between June 1917--see book 10, The God of the Hive, chapter 52--and September 1924), very short story #7 in /Mary Russell's War/ (2016). "My Story, or, The Case of the Ravening Sherlockians" (2009, Events of 1989–2009--note that Sherlock Holmes, born early in 1861, is 148 years old in 2009, and still alive. He must still be alive, as his obituary hasn't appeared in The Times of London. Conan Doyle tried to kill him in 1891, and his fans wouldn't have it.), short story #8 in /Mary Russell's War/ (2016). "A Case in Correspondence" (2010, Events of 1992.05.03–1992.05.19), short story #9 in /Mary Russell's War/ (2016). 3 background, very optional. Almost any Dorothy L. Sayers (1893–1957) mystery. 3. A Letter of Mary (1996. Events of 1923.08.14–1923.09.08, England.) 4 background, optional. The Hound of the Baskervilles (novel, 1902), Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930). 4. The Moor (1998. Events of 1923.10–1923.11, Dartmoor, Devon, England.) Includes spoilers for The Hound of the Baskervilles. The moor is Dartmoor, in southwest England, setting of The Hound of the Baskervilles: (view spoiler)["a high, wide bowl of granite, some 350 square miles covered with a thin, peaty soil and scattered with outcrops of stone. ... The floor of the moor is a thousand feet above the surrounding Devonshire countryside, from which it rises abruptly." [p. 23 of 307, chapter 2.] Parts of Dartmoor get up to 80 inches (2 meters) of rain per year. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dartmoor Here's a photo of Aune Mire: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dartmoo... A map of Dartmoor is at the front of the print book, but at the back of the Kindle version, just before the "praise for other Mary Russell mysteries." Here's google maps: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Dar... Effects of acidic bog water: Holmes says few skeletons have been found in the bogs, and speculates that the acid dissolves them [21%, Chapter 5]. Could be. However: Acidic bog water destroys plants but preserves animal skin and leather, hair and wool, horn and fingernails. Alkaline lake mud destroys animal remains, but preserves plant material such as wood and flaxen thread. —Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times, Elizabeth Wayland Barber, pp. 86, 90. We learn that Holmes' friend Dr. John Watson is 5 years older than Holmes. (hide spoiler)] Quiz for The Moor: https://www.goodreads.com/trivia/work... 6. background, very optional. The Purloined Letter (1844), Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) 6. Justice Hall. (2002. Events 1923.11.05–1923.12.26, England, France, Canada.) Includes spoilers for O Jerusalem, as does this: Introduces (view spoiler)[ William Maurice (Lord Marsh) Hughenfort, b. 1876, and Alistair Gordon St. John Hughenfort, b. 1881. (hide spoiler)] Quiz for Justice Hall: https://www.goodreads.com/trivia/work... 7 background, optional, but good. Kim (novel, 1901), Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936). Online: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Kim 7 background, optional. Hind Swaraj (1901), Mohandas Gandhi (1869–1948). Online: https://www.mkgandhi.org/ebks/hind_sw... 7. The Game. (2004. Events 1924.01.01–1924.02, Northern India: Simla in Himchal Pradesh; Khalka in Haryana; Khanpur in the Punjab.) The game is international espionage, called the Great Game by Kipling in Kim. Introduces Kimball O'Hara, b. 1875. (view spoiler)[The text tells us that our border kingdom is north of Pathankot, Punjab--which would put it in Jammu and Kashmir, maybe in the direction of Srinagar. But the map in the book shows it in the vicinity of Mingora, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan. https://www.google.com/maps/@33.4,74,... (hide spoiler)] Quiz for The Game: https://www.goodreads.com/trivia/work... 8 background, very optional. The Maltese Falcon (novel, 1930), Dashiell Hammett (1894–1961). Sam Spade short stories: "A Man Called Spade," 1932, "Too Many Have Lived," 1932, "They Can Only Hang you Once," 1932, all collected in A Man Called Spade and Other Stories, 1944, and in Nightmare Town, 1994; and "A Knife Will Cut for Anybody," published 2013. Continental Op stories: The Big Book of the Continental Op, 2017, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... 8 background, optional. Entry Denied: Exclusion and the Chinese Community in America, 1882–1943 (1994), Sucheng Chan (1941–). 8 background, entirely optional but well worth reading: Right Ho, Jeeves (novel, 1934), P.G. Wodehouse (1881–1975), online at: http://www.online-literature.com/pg-w... Or any similar Wodehouse--Right Ho, Jeeves, is particularly good. 8. Locked Rooms (2005. Events 1924.03–1924.05, San Francisco.) Eighteen years after the San Francisco earthquake and fires, April 18, 1906. (view spoiler)[The police feared riot and disorder so much, it was ordered that any person caught looting would be shot on sight--with no suggestion as to how the soldier or policeman might tell if the person in his sights was a looter or a rightful home-owner. (chapter 8.) (hide spoiler)] Quiz for Locked Rooms: https://www.goodreads.com/trivia/work... 9 background, optional. A Scandal in Bohemia (short story, 1891) and The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter (short story, 1893), Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930). 9 background, very optional. The Varieties of Religious Experience, 1902, William James (1842–1910). 9. The Language of Bees (2009. Events 1924.08–1924.08.30 and 1919.08–1920.03, England, Scotland.) ends "to be continued" in 10. The God of the Hive (2010. Events 1924.08.29–1924.10.31, England, Scotland). Includes spoilers for A Scandal in Bohemia (1891) and The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter (1893). (view spoiler)[Introduces Damian Adler, b. 1894.09.09. Lyrics of John Barleycorn, as collected by Robert Burns, 1782: http://www.robertburns.org/works/27.s... Meaning of einen Vogel haben: https://www.expath.de/useful-german-i... Richard Lionheart and Blondel: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... Tawny owl: https://ebird.org/wi/species/tawowl1 (hide spoiler)] Quiz for The Language of Bees: https://www.goodreads.com/trivia/work... Quiz for The God of the Hive: https://www.goodreads.com/trivia/work... 11 background, optional. The Pirates of Penzance (comic opera, 1879), W.S. Gilbert (1836–1911) 11. Pirate King (2011. Events 1924.11.06–1924.11.30, Lisbon; Morocco.) Heath Robinson (a kind of British Rube Goldberg): https://www.pinterest.com/drumseddie5... 12. Garment of Shadows (2012. Events 1924.12–1925.01, Morocco.) Quiz for Garment of Shadows: https://www.goodreads.com/trivia/work... 13. Dreaming Spies. (2015. Events 1925.03–1925.04, 1924.04, Japan & Oxfordshire). This one ends in confusion: it's unclear what happens. Thomas Carlyle: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... 14 NECESSARY background for The Murder of Mary Russell: THE GLORIA SCOTT (1893): online here, in print and audio, https://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/40/the-mem... 8400-word short story in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle. The story, its characters and events, are the foundation of the Mary Russell book, which gives a different perspective on them. Holmes says it's his first case. (In Conan Doyle's telling it's set in about 1885; yet he's been in Baker Street since about 1881. Conan Doyle is careless about dates. Laurie R. King takes trouble to make them as self-consistent as she can.) 14 background, optional. His Last Bow (1917), The Five Orange Pips (1891), A Scandal in Bohemia (1891), The Man with the Twisted Lip (1891), The Sign of the Four (1890), The Adventure of the Final Problem (1893), Arthur Conan Doyle. (Events and/or characters of these stories are mentioned in The Murder of Mary Russell.) 14 background, entirely optional, but good stories: the Horatio Hornblower stories by C. S. Forester: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horatio... 14 background, optional. Oliver Twist (1838 novel), Charles Dickens (1812–1870) 14 background, optional. The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841), Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) 14. The Murder of Mary Russell. (2016. Events 1925.05.13–1925.05.18 and backstory 1852–1915.04.08 Britain, Atlantic, Australia.) Has spoilers for The Gloria Scott and The Five Orange Pips by Conan Doyle, and for The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe. We find out more about Holmes' housekeeper, Clara Hudson, b. 1856.05.09 (chapter 39), and Billy Mudd, b. about 1872 (chapter 27: age 8 in October 1880), and (view spoiler)[Sam Hudson, b. 1879.08.20. (hide spoiler)] Clara Hudson meets Sherlock Holmes 1879.09.29 Sunday (chapter 19). Dr. John Watson comes to Baker Street, 1881.01. 1891.04 Holmes disappears at the Reichenbach Falls. 1894.04 Holmes reappears. 1901.01.22 Queen Victoria dies. 1903 Holmes relocates to East Sussex. 14. Quiz for The Murder of Mary Russell: https://www.goodreads.com/trivia/work... 15 background, optional. The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax (1911), Arthur Conan Doyle. 15 background, optional. Ten Days in a Mad-House (1887), Nellie Bly (1864–1922) 15 background, optional. The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), H.G. Wells (1866–1946) 15. The Island of the Mad. (2018. Events 1925.06 Venice, and backstory 1922–) Pierrot: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierrot Julian and Maddalo (1818, Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792–1822): https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem... 16 background, optional. The Purloined Letter (1844), Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) 16. Riviera Gold. (2020. Events 1925.05–1925.08; backstory 1877.04) Has spoilers for The Gloria Scott by Arthur Conan Doyle and The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe. Continues the story of Mrs. Hudson from novel 14, The Murder of Mary Russell. *** 15,000-character limit. Continues in comments: ***

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah-Grace (Azrael865)

    This mystery was amazing in every way. I have enjoyed all of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes adventures I have read so far, and this one is one of the most enjoyable yet. I like the historical background and the featuring of historic figures in the story, portrayed in a real life type setting with personalities very well developed. It makes the story come alive. I loved that Mary and Holmes worked closely together on this adventure, as they did when Mary was newly assisting Holmes in the beg This mystery was amazing in every way. I have enjoyed all of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes adventures I have read so far, and this one is one of the most enjoyable yet. I like the historical background and the featuring of historic figures in the story, portrayed in a real life type setting with personalities very well developed. It makes the story come alive. I loved that Mary and Holmes worked closely together on this adventure, as they did when Mary was newly assisting Holmes in the beginning. It is always Mary's voice, in the narrative, that keeps things exciting and has me waiting for the next story. The wit is fun and often has me grinning to myself as I am reading, sometimes receiving strange looks from people who see me, Even the author's notes afterwards are entertaining. "Please don’t blame me for Miss Russell’s deliberate imprecisions." Thank you to Netgalley and Bantam / Random House for the opportunity to read the e-ARC from a favorite author and series.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    1920’s Transylvania might be centuries from the Blood Countess and Vlad the Impaler, but something dark is lurking in the shadows of Castle Bran sending Russell and Holmes to delve into the mystery. I couldn’t wait to crack the cover on this latest historical mystery in a long-time series that I love and it didn’t hurt that the setting was the atmospheric Romanian countryside. Castle Shade is the seventeenth of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. It could be read standalone in a pinch th 1920’s Transylvania might be centuries from the Blood Countess and Vlad the Impaler, but something dark is lurking in the shadows of Castle Bran sending Russell and Holmes to delve into the mystery. I couldn’t wait to crack the cover on this latest historical mystery in a long-time series that I love and it didn’t hurt that the setting was the atmospheric Romanian countryside. Castle Shade is the seventeenth of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. It could be read standalone in a pinch though it offers a better reading experience when the series is taken in order. After wrapping up their latest adventure in Monaco and tucking away the secret she is keeping from Holmes, Mary Russell is ready to assist on a new case with her husband, Sherlock Holmes, commissioned by Romania’s Queen Marie who believes a threat has been made against her youngest daughter and seems focused at her retreat, Bran Castle. Mary and Holmes find a village and castle steeped in the superstition of the past, but with modern ways making gradual in roads. They discover a chain of curious events affecting those in the village and castle that seem designed to rouse the village into a fervor of terror aimed at their queen. Late night forays, careful engagements with village personalities like the Roma in their nearby encampment, a woodsy witch, a modern doctor, and a castle majordomo who might know more than he’s saying. At this point, Mary Russell has come into her own and has been a full detecting partner with her husband, Sherlock Holmes for some time. They divide tasks and sleuth away. This doesn’t mean that they don’t fear for each other’s safety or get upset when their partner is hurt. Nor, does it mean that they have married life figured out. In fact, they seem to struggle a bit figuring that part out when the other side of their partnership goes so well. I’ve enjoyed seeing Mary grow into womanhood and grow into her roles throughout the series. She truly is the equal of the great detective and challenges his intellect as he does, hers. The setting for this latest mystery, rural post-WWI Romania, was written well. The author included the royal aspect, politics, traditions, and social life to add layers to the plot. I enjoyed this backdrop of the people from all classes who were well-represented in several side characters. The mystery was a slow burn type as they steadily gathered facts and worked out who, what and why. They figured out what was going on and then the who. I was interested, but I confess that the mystery side was a little lackluster. There was no dearth of exciting moments, but they didn’t feel as life threatening so my heart was in my throat. That said, it was a pleasurable diversion and well worth my anticipation for the latest series release. Those who love Sherlock Holmes and Historical Mysteries should definitely give this a go. I rec’d the eARC from Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Mystery & Thriller

    To say that there are a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories available on the mystery market would be a gross understatement. However, if you are looking for a series featuring an aged version of the world’s most famous sleuth, you could not do much better than Laurie R. King’s brilliant novels featuring Sherlock and his much younger bride, Mary Russell. However, none of the previous entries in the series can prepare you for the plotline of CASTLE SHADE, which pits the duo of super sleuths against a fo To say that there are a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories available on the mystery market would be a gross understatement. However, if you are looking for a series featuring an aged version of the world’s most famous sleuth, you could not do much better than Laurie R. King’s brilliant novels featuring Sherlock and his much younger bride, Mary Russell. However, none of the previous entries in the series can prepare you for the plotline of CASTLE SHADE, which pits the duo of super sleuths against a foe directly out of the annals of the supernatural --- the creatures known as the strigoi or, more familiarly, vampires. Bram Stoker’s infamous DRACULA put vampires directly into the nightmares of readers worldwide. But was this really a work of fiction, or could there have been some truth behind these legendary creatures of the night? This is the mission that Mary and Sherlock are on when they head off to Roumania at the behest of protecting Queen Marie, the doubly royal monarch who is the granddaughter of Britain’s Queen Victoria and is related to Alexander II, the Tsar of Russia. The time is just after World War I, and Europe is still in a great deal of turmoil. Queen Marie has used all her grace and political guile to make Roumania a prominent force in Eastern Europe and lives within the grand and mysterious castle known as Bran. Mary and Sherlock are well aware of the proximity to the now-legendary Transylvania region, and Mary even dreams that she is in Jonathan Harker’s coach straight out of DRACULA as their train enters Roumania. More specifically, it is the small village of Brasov that is of interest to Sherlock as this may be the lair of the creature known as the strigoi. What threat, if any, does this alleged vampire have over Queen Marie and Castle Bran? That is what Mary and Sherlock must seek to uncover before something tragic occurs that could spin the area into another armed conflict. Sherlock recognizes that Queen Marie is the kind of female royalty you would find in a fairy tale like “Sleeping Beauty.” Typically, happily-ever-after is where the story ends, but sometimes happiness is where the problems begin. Mary and Sherlock immerse themselves in their research of the area and find indications of many otherworldly threats, like the possible involvement of the Hungarian Countess Erzabet Bathory, also known as The Blood Countess. Once again, the implication of the supernatural surrounding Queen Marie is quite evident. As often happens in a Sherlock Holmes tale, the master sleuth goes off on a secret mission, relying on his partner to hold down the fort. In this case, he leaves Mary behind at Castle Bran, and she is getting creeped out by the place. It calls to mind her reading of the classic horror story “The Monkey’s Paw” and causes her many sleepless nights. When a young girl named Gabriela, who is related to the court of Bran, goes missing, all those close to her are deeply concerned. She now must throw herself into this mystery, fearing that whatever force may be threatening the castle is somehow behind it. CASTLE SHADE is one creepy novel that will have readers looking over their shoulders instead of focusing on the mystery in which our protagonists are involved. This is the beauty of mixing the supernatural with a Sherlock Holmes story --- you want to believe that everything must have a logical explanation, yet you cannot help but ponder the possibilities that some mysteries are so evil, they defy such elementary thinking. Reviewed by Ray Palen

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality As this one opens, Mary Russell and her husband Sherlock Holmes, are leaving the sunny Riviera, the scene of their previous adventure, Riviera Gold, for the chillier and considerably more forbidding Carpathian Mountains. For the very scene of Count Dracula’s fictional adventures. But Castle Bran, unlike the fictional residence of Dracula that was based on it, is the real life retreat of Queen Marie of Roumania. There is a bit of Dorothy Parker doggerel that I Originally published at Reading Reality As this one opens, Mary Russell and her husband Sherlock Holmes, are leaving the sunny Riviera, the scene of their previous adventure, Riviera Gold, for the chillier and considerably more forbidding Carpathian Mountains. For the very scene of Count Dracula’s fictional adventures. But Castle Bran, unlike the fictional residence of Dracula that was based on it, is the real life retreat of Queen Marie of Roumania. There is a bit of Dorothy Parker doggerel that I memorized a long time ago, that goes: “Life is a glorious cycle of song, A medley of extemporanea. Love is a thing that can never go wrong, And I am Marie of Roumania.” I had no idea that Marie of Roumania was a real person. I thought it was something Parker made up in order to make the thing rhyme and scan correctly. Color me chagrined. Holmes is on his way to Castle Bran and the town of Bran that it overlooks at the behest of Queen Marie herself. Someone is threatening the Queen’s young daughter, Princess Ireana and Her Majesty wants Holmes to find the culprit and stop them. That Holmes is also in the area at the suggestion, at least, of his brother Mycroft turns out to be a source of irritation for both Holmes and Russell. Mycroft, the eminence grise of the British government, has a habit of commanding and commandeering the services of his brother for political purposes and occasionally downright espionage, in ways that give Russell serious qualms. Qualms that are quite serious, a situation that has been developing since Russell learned the full scope of Mycroft’s government remit during The God of the Hive. Qualms that are compelling Holmes to, effectively, pick a side. He can either continue to serve his brother whenever and wherever called upon, at a moment’s notice for purposes that he may or may not strictly agree with and may or may not be for the so-called “greater good” – or he can remain married and in full partnership with his wife Mary Russell. Because Mary requires honesty and Mycroft requires secrecy, and those requirements cannot both be met. (The fallout, when it finally comes in a later book in the series, is going to be EPIC.) But at the moment, Holmes and Russell have a case. A case that has entirely too many shades of The Sussex Vampire, while potentially covered in all the blood that the infamous Roumanian countess Erzsebet (AKA Elizabeth) Bathory, ever bathed in. There’s someone running around Bran and its neighboring villages trying to convince the locals that Queen Marie is as evil as Bathory and Dracula combined, and that no one in Bran will be safe until she’s been evicted from her castle. Or, until Russell and Holmes figure out who is really behind this local reign of attempted terror. Escape Rating A-: Castle Shade was good fun. Not quite as much good fun as Riviera Gold, but still absolutely worth the read for anyone who has followed the adventures of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes since The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Speaking of which, while I don’t think you have to have read Mary Russell’s entire opus to get into Castle Shade, you do have to have read some, if only to make sure you can get past the astonishing premise, that when Holmes retired to Sussex to keep bees he took on a 15-year-old apprentice who later – after she attained her majority – became both his investigative partner and his spouse. But the case, with its echoes of Holmes’ earlier investigation, The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire, is, in its way, a kind of a callback to Holmes’ earlier adventures. In spite of the potential political overtones, the brush with real-life royalty and the unresolved issue of Brother Mycroft, among other things, the case that the Queen has asked Holmes to investigate and that Holmes has, in turn, requested Russell’s assistance with, winds its way around and about until it resolves into something classic. When Holmes rules out any political motivations, the heart of the mystery turns into one of the basic questions in mystery. “Qui bono?” or more familiarly, “Who benefits?” Because it’s all about Queen Marie and her ownership of Bran Castle. The whole point of the strange happenings and rumor mongering and attempts at raising unbridled hysteria among the local population are all aimed at Queen Marie. Someone wants her out of Castle Bran. Someone believes they benefit from driving Marie out of her castle. It’s up to Holmes and Russell to see through all the misdirection swirling around them, find a way clear of all the many and various secrets that the locals are obviously keeping that may or may not have anything to do with what’s really going on, to determine exactly who it is who is up to no good. And stop them. One of the other lovely things about this particular entry in the series is that, unlike Riviera Gold and other recent stories, the focus is equally split between Holmes and Russell. They have equal but separate parts to play in this mystery and I’m happy to see that, at the moment of this story at least, their partnership is still working for both of them. While this mystery comes to a satisfactory conclusion, it is equally clear that the adventures of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes still have many more stories yet to tell. And I’m looking forward to each and every one.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Horton

    I've been disappointed in some of King's recent books, but Castle Shade reunites Russell and Holmes as strong foils again. I read the novel on a flight from Alaska, and it kept me entertained. Since King began writing her Holmes and Russell series, many writers of Sherlockian fiction have entered the market. Some of these authors are, IMO, doing a good job of teasing out facets of Conan Doyle's stories and mimicking his writing style. So the originality that impressed me in King's early work is a I've been disappointed in some of King's recent books, but Castle Shade reunites Russell and Holmes as strong foils again. I read the novel on a flight from Alaska, and it kept me entertained. Since King began writing her Holmes and Russell series, many writers of Sherlockian fiction have entered the market. Some of these authors are, IMO, doing a good job of teasing out facets of Conan Doyle's stories and mimicking his writing style. So the originality that impressed me in King's early work is a bit diluted now, although Russell is such an fiery character that she holds her own against the idiosyncratic Holmes. Also, if you're not aware of Romanian history, Castle Shade is an enjoyable way to learn something about this underrated country with a tumultuous and interesting past. Recommended for fans of King's earlier books, and readers of historical and Sherlockian fiction.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin Gonya

    I was given a free e-copy of this novel by NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. I have read the entire Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell series by Laurie R King, and was so thrilled to be allowed to read this one. I can honestly say that this is one of, if not the primary, favorites of mine. Queen Marie of Romania is considered to be much loved by her adoptive country. So loved that the country fathers gifted her the Castle Bran, and it has become a much loved location of Queen Marie's and I was given a free e-copy of this novel by NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. I have read the entire Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell series by Laurie R King, and was so thrilled to be allowed to read this one. I can honestly say that this is one of, if not the primary, favorites of mine. Queen Marie of Romania is considered to be much loved by her adoptive country. So loved that the country fathers gifted her the Castle Bran, and it has become a much loved location of Queen Marie's and her daughter Princess Ileana. Unfortunately, someone or something is causing mischief. Shadow figures, whispers in the night, and accidents to young girls who work in the castle. While these main just be rumors and accidents, this is a land steeped with mythic suspicions. So when Queen Marie reaches out to Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell, they are at first uncertain of going. However, a young girl has become involved and the danger does not appear to be simply the work of a strigoi. Or is it? First of all, Bram Stoker's Dracula and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes are two of my favorite novels of all time. I have re-read both stories multiple times and own multiple copies. I have also read Sherlock Holmes pastiches that combine with Dracula. I have not, however, read one that imbues so many historical facts, and I do feel that is why this novel will be a new favorite of mine. Not many people know that in Romania's history, there was also a female Count Dracula, Countess Erzabet Bathory, so it was really exciting to see her referenced here. I also enjoyed Russell's implication of a "witchhunt" against a female during Bathory's time. It gives one pause to consider other such atrocities. Second, I have to admire the way Laurie R King, or Mary Russell whichever author you prefer, shows character development and growth. For example, everyone knows that Sherlock Holmes has a tendency to turn a blind eye against women. However, in this novel he openly admits to this flaw and encourages Russell to assist him in correcting it. He does not, though, change in the "dramatics" of his character which we have come to rely on Holmes. Russell, on the other hand, still carries a grudge against Mycroft and it is seen in her reluctance to assist a Queen. At least until others are affected. But I also like how she keeps to her "roots". Mainly her academia as well as her Hebrew roots throughout the series. They may be small mentions but they are still mentions that remind us of her background. Finally, the writing is just as elaborate as the first novel. The scenes are described to make the reader feel as if they are actually inside Castle Bran or on the road to the local village. I can imagine the shooting-brake car that the doctor drives, and picture the scene at Father Constantin's home. I always look up the geography with King's novels just so I can have an idea of what part of the world I am in. I can also safely say that I related to Mary and her language predicament because I, too, know a little Romanian. It was not hard to imagine catching bits and pieces of the conversations around her. Overall I rate this novel 5 out of 5 stars.

  19. 4 out of 5

    The Library Lady

    Having spent a lot of time reading about the descendants of Queen Victoria, "the Grandmama of Europe," I enjoyed the involvement of Marie of Romania in this story, but yet somehow something here didn't work for me. Or, to use a frequent line of my daughter's, "I liked it but it's not my favorite." Having spent a lot of time reading about the descendants of Queen Victoria, "the Grandmama of Europe," I enjoyed the involvement of Marie of Romania in this story, but yet somehow something here didn't work for me. Or, to use a frequent line of my daughter's, "I liked it but it's not my favorite."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina Flynn

    I love this series. The Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes books are my go-to comfort reads, and every time I reread a book, I pick up another nuance. Castle Shade is another great installment. It's subtly creepy. And I found myself wishing I'd read Dracula beforehand. Though it's certainly not necessary. Every book opens my eyes to a new historical period, era, or person. And I loved learning about Transylvania in the 20s and before. The books always make me want to travel to the setting of each b I love this series. The Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes books are my go-to comfort reads, and every time I reread a book, I pick up another nuance. Castle Shade is another great installment. It's subtly creepy. And I found myself wishing I'd read Dracula beforehand. Though it's certainly not necessary. Every book opens my eyes to a new historical period, era, or person. And I loved learning about Transylvania in the 20s and before. The books always make me want to travel to the setting of each book! Suspenseful, deliciously creepy, and a wonderful partnership. What more can you ask for in a book?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    “Shadowy figures, vague whispers, the fears of girls, dangers that may be only accidents. But this is a land of long memory and hidden corners, a land that had known Vlad the Impaler, a land from whose churchyards the shades creep.” Unless it’s that certain time of year, where the ghouls and ghosts are celebrated, you probably won’t find fiction books thematically linked to the Dracula tale grouped together in a library or bookstore. Being a reader who loves a good theme and enjoys a well-writte “Shadowy figures, vague whispers, the fears of girls, dangers that may be only accidents. But this is a land of long memory and hidden corners, a land that had known Vlad the Impaler, a land from whose churchyards the shades creep.” Unless it’s that certain time of year, where the ghouls and ghosts are celebrated, you probably won’t find fiction books thematically linked to the Dracula tale grouped together in a library or bookstore. Being a reader who loves a good theme and enjoys a well-written Dracula connected book, I would like to see such a grouping on a permanent basis. I adore different takes on the Dracula theme, but I am especially fascinated by those that are uniquely clever. Castle Shade by Laurie R. King is that. Mixing history, Queen Marie of Romania, with the atmosphere of Transylvania appeals to my love of history and legend combined, and the sleuthing of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes is a thrilling treat. But, don’t imagine that Castle Shade is a vampire story; it’s not. However, it is very much about the folklore and myths surrounding that tale, how the local people are rather easily swayed to believe in the possibility of a darkness that seeks out the blood of young women. And, this story is set in Romania, with Castle Bran being the summer residence of Queen Marie and where Russell and Holmes are visiting. Readers of this series will remember that Holmes had traveled to Romania by himself when Russell was in Monte Carlo pursuing Mrs. Hudson. Now, Russell is accompanying Holmes back to the area of Romania known as Transylvania (I wonder how many people can read that name and not say it in their heads as Dracula pronounces it). They are there at the request of Queen Marie, beloved Queen of Romania and granddaughter to the iconic Queen Victoria of England. Queen Marie has received a threat that involves possible harm to her youngest daughter Ileana, a girl still in her teens. It is this, the danger to a young girl, that has Russell and Holmes eager to help find answers quickly. But, they must also be surreptitious in their mission, as the Queen wants to keep it quiet, so they are presented as architectural consultants in the ongoing work being done to Castle Bran. The threatening letter is one mysterious occurrence, but there are others, including rumors of witches and ghosts and lurking shadows. Something or someone is stirring the pot, so to speak, and they are doing so only when Queen Marie is in residence at the castle, thus hoping villagers will connect the dots to Her Highness. A quick solution is needed before the tide turns against Marie. Villagers in Brasov are already hanging garlic in their doorways. Russell and Holmes are at first leaning toward a political explanation to the troubling events, as Queen Marie has been an amazingly effective leader while her husband is in failing health. They think that there might be those wishing her to be a less popular and distracted Queen to push agendas of their own. The political angle also has Russell suspecting that Mycroft, Sherlock’s brother, is responsible for their involvement, something that does not sit well with Mary Russell. But, the welfare of the young princess is more important than Russells' grievances, and, as they investigate and uncover clues, the political culprit seems less likely and personal revenge more likely. As per usual, Russell and Holmes don’t waste any time getting right on the case. The two outfit themselves for stealth in their black clothing on the very night they arrive and go cautiously about the village, looking for the unusual to happen. And, happen it does, as the sharp eyes of the pair discover an attempt to poison someone’s chickens and the deliberate placement of a witch’s hex bag on a local's front doorway path. Undoing these attempts to stir up the locals puts Holmes and Russell in control of the narrative, but it will require constant vigilance to maintain that control. When the misdeeds take a new direction of harm to a person, the urgency increases to find the way through the darkness and save lives. Hold on to your hats because the chase gets wild and woolly, including a premature burial experience. There are several suspects considered by Russell and Holmes, and I was able to see a case for each of their guilt. But, I was surprised by the actual villain and the reason for wanting to drive Queen Marie away from Castle Bran. Laurie King does a good job of presenting red herrings while leading readers to the miscreant. I’m rather torn between thinking Russell showed great bravery and thinking she took some questionable risks. However, I am more convinced than ever that Mary Russell is a match indeed for the wily Sherlock Holmes. She is continuing to grow in her confidence, and Holmes is realizing that she is growing and their partnership and marriage is shifting. There will be issues to address in the near future. Atmospheric is a word that often gets thrown around in describing books set in the countryside of Transylvania, but it is so brilliantly accomplished by King in Castle Shade that it must be noted in my review. The author has such a beautiful command of words in her description of the area and its inhabitants in achieving the spectra of darkness looming over the luscious gardens of the Queen. It’s the atmosphere created that keeps readers on the edge of their seats and believing that anything is possible. I was delighted with the seventeenth book in the Russell and Holmes series. Castle Shade satisfied my love of historical connections in my fiction reading with the interspersing of Romanian history after WWI ended and the tale of how Queen Marie came to be Queen of Romania and an enormous asset to her adopted land. I’m always pleased when my fictional reading takes me to seek out more information about the real people and places in the story. And, as crime/mystery is my favorite genre of fiction, the cases that Russell and Holmes pursue continue to thrill me. I highly recommend Castle Shade, and I believe it can be read as a stand-alone, which is a great bonus. Laurie King is a true weaver of tales, who never lets a thread slip, and oh what fascinating threads they are.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. One of the world’s best detectives – along with her husband, Sherlock Holmes – is called to Roumania to aid the country’s Queen in this latest installment of Laurie R. King’s brilliant series. Or, more accurately, a province of Roumania that you may have heard of – a little place called Transylvania. Castle Shade, by Laurie R. King King is right on the mark in this latest installment. I was thrilled to see Russell and Holmes working so closely together on this latest case – something tha One of the world’s best detectives – along with her husband, Sherlock Holmes – is called to Roumania to aid the country’s Queen in this latest installment of Laurie R. King’s brilliant series. Or, more accurately, a province of Roumania that you may have heard of – a little place called Transylvania. Castle Shade, by Laurie R. King King is right on the mark in this latest installment. I was thrilled to see Russell and Holmes working so closely together on this latest case – something that’s been slowly coming back together over the past several books after a bit of a drought. I really love how while the story could be read as a standalone, if you’re familiar with events of the entire series, you really get the feeling of how certain things are building up to something. The most obvious case of this is the simmering tension that has been growing between Russell and her brother-in-law, Mycroft Holmes. They’ve been more or less at loggerheads with one another since The God of the Hive (with a brief ceasefire during the events of The Murder of Mary Russell ), with Russell vehemently disagreeing with a fair few of Mycroft’s choices and attitudes in regards to his work as a member of the government. It’s gotten to the point where it’s even begun to drive a wedge between Russell and Holmes, something neither of them is willing to take lying down. A confrontation is coming, that’s for sure, and I cannot wait to see when it happens! Anyway, this case was fascinating! Marie of Roumania and her daughter, Ileana, were fascinating historical figures in their own right, and I loved King’s portrayal of the both of them. The mystery surrounding Castle Bran was delightfully creepy, incorporating the local mythology of strigoi or, as Westerners would know them, vampires. I loved how creeped out Russell was by some aspects of the case – like how it dredged up her fear of being buried alive (something that first came about after the deaths of her parents and brother), and how a recent viewing of the film Nosferatu had seriously messed with her. As someone who is terrified of horror films, I totally get this. Then there is the castle, which is a character unto itself. Atmospheric and mysterious, one can really tell that King enjoyed her time here when she was researching for the book. Castle Dracula Bran. Something else I enjoyed was just how close Russell and Holmes felt. As I said, there had until the recent few books, been a serious drought of them working together on a case and spending time together. I really felt the emotion between them, for all that they try to be their cool, calm, rational selves. Holmes being utterly furious at Russell’s abduction was such a well-written moment, particularly when Russell easily spotted that he was thinking about what could have happened, and how it could have been so much worse than her being dumped in a box in a barn. Another great moment was Russell reminding Holmes that he was not allowed to kill the culprit, though he was apparently allowed to hurt him a bit. That she had to say so out loud really speaks to just how angry Holmes was at the guilty party. An absolutely wonderful addition to the series! A great read!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ray Palen

    To say that there are a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories and series available on the mystery market would be a gross understatement. However, if you are seeking out a series featuring an aged version of the world’s most famous sleuth you could not do much better than author Laurie R. King’s brilliant series which features both Sherlock and his much younger bride, Mary Russell. King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series has been a must-read of Holmes fans for decades and has included some wild a To say that there are a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories and series available on the mystery market would be a gross understatement. However, if you are seeking out a series featuring an aged version of the world’s most famous sleuth you could not do much better than author Laurie R. King’s brilliant series which features both Sherlock and his much younger bride, Mary Russell. King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series has been a must-read of Holmes fans for decades and has included some wild and ingenious storylines. None of these previous novels in the series can quite prepare you for the plotline of CASTLE SHADE which pits the duo of super sleuths against a foe directly out of the annals of the supernatural --- the creatures known as the strigoi or, more familiarly, vampires. Bram Stoker’s infamous novel DRACULA put vampires directly into the nightmares of fiction readers worldwide --- but was this really a work of fiction or could there have been some truth behind these legendary creatures of the night? This is the mission that Mary and Sherlock are on when they head off to Roumania at the behest of protecting Queen Marie, the doubly royal monarch who was granddaughter of Britain’s Queen Victoria as well as being related to Alexander II, the Tsar Of Russia. The time is just after WWI and things in Europe are still in much turmoil. Queen Marie has used all her grace and political guile to make Roumania a prominent force in Eastern Europe and lives within the grand and mysterious castle known as Bran. Mary and Holmes are well aware of the proximity to the now legendary Transylvania region and Mary even dreams that she is in Jonathan Harker’s coach straight out of Stoker’s DRACULA as their train enters into Roumania. More specifically it was the small village of Brasov that is of interest to Holmes as this may be the lair of the creature known as the strigoi. What threat, if any, does this alleged vampire have over Queen Marie and Castle Bran --- that is what Mary and Holmes must seek to uncover before something tragic occurs that could spin the area into another armed conflict. Holmes recognizes that Queen Marie is just like the sort of female royalty you would find in a fairy-tale like Sleeping Beauty. However, in these tales often happily ever after is where things typically end but sometimes it is happiness that is where the problems begin. Mary and Holmes immerse themselves in their research of the area and find indications of many otherworldly threats, like the possible involvement of the Hungarian Countess Erzabet Bathory, also known as The Blood Countess. Once again, the implication of the supernatural surrounding Queen Marie is quite evident. As often happens in a Sherlock Holmes tale, the master sleuth goes off on a secret but important mission leaving his partner behind to hold things down. In this case, it was leaving Mary Russell behind at Castle Bran and she is really getting creeped out by the place. It calls to mind her reading of the classic horror story, “The Monkey’s Paw”, and causes her many sleepless nights inside that castle. When a young girl who was related to the court of Bran named Gabriela goes missing all those close to her are deeply concerned. Mary Russell must now throw herself into this mystery fearing that whatever force may be threatening Castle Bran is somehow behind it. CASTLE SHADE is one creepy read and will have readers looking over their shoulders instead of focusing on the mystery that Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are involved with. This is the beauty of mixing the supernatural with a Sherlock Holmes story --- you want to believe that everything must have a logical explanation but cannot help but ponder the possibilities that some mysteries are so evil they defy such elementary thinking! Reviewed by Ray Palen for Book Reporter

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marisa

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Ok I was honestly just relieved that Russell and Holmes were getting the heck out of Italy and Monaco! I seriously thought that Russell was never going to leave and that she would forever be cursed in this vortex of secrets, stuck between acting like a petulant five year old and one of the Bright Young Things. I realize that the author had to answer the issue of Mrs. Hudson. Russell was never going to let that go until it was completely resolved. I just wish it didn’t take so long! In this entry Ok I was honestly just relieved that Russell and Holmes were getting the heck out of Italy and Monaco! I seriously thought that Russell was never going to leave and that she would forever be cursed in this vortex of secrets, stuck between acting like a petulant five year old and one of the Bright Young Things. I realize that the author had to answer the issue of Mrs. Hudson. Russell was never going to let that go until it was completely resolved. I just wish it didn’t take so long! In this entry, Holmes was previously investigating some strange “happenings” in Roumania while Mary was dealing with the Hudson situation in Monaco. Holmes visited the town of Bran. In Transylvania. I will give you one guess what these “happenings” supposedly were. Now that he has his wife back, Holmes fills Russell in on what he previously discovered and why he is taking the case. Here is where my review goes down by one star. In no universe will Sherlock Holmes ever be considered a feminist. Mary had softened him and changed him in the best ways. But a feminist? NEVER! So why did the author insist on putting her own modern ideas of feminism into this book and worse into a beloved character of classical literature? I wish I knew. Holmes states that he is taking the case to makeup for previous cases where he failed to listen to a woman or credit her story. Cue my eyeroll. Now for the high points: Russell is finally treating her husband as a beloved and respectful partner instead of a dog she has to kick at to get it to go away and stop bothering her. They are once again a team. I’m not a fan of the Horror genre but it was interesting to learn the origins of Vampires and where the word itself comes from. But as always, everything has a logical and reasonable explanation. The historical characters were wonderful additions that brighten the darkness of the events going on around the castle. The culprit was easy to spot but the ending made up for it. I can’t wait for the next book, many decisions will come to a head for Holmes and Russell, namely how/when do you replace Mrs. Hudson and what should they do about Mycroft? The latter has been brewing for quite a while so I hope the next book has the resolution to that particular question.

  25. 4 out of 5

    MaryJ

    I am a fan of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R King. I've read most of the earlier books more than once. I've really enjoyed the depth the novels went into the historical or cultural contexts in which they were set. However, the last couple books in the series were not as satisfying, this one included. This story was set in a castle in Romania, with allusions to and outright invocations of Bram Stoker's Dracula, and featuring the real-life persons of Queen Marie of Romania, I am a fan of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R King. I've read most of the earlier books more than once. I've really enjoyed the depth the novels went into the historical or cultural contexts in which they were set. However, the last couple books in the series were not as satisfying, this one included. This story was set in a castle in Romania, with allusions to and outright invocations of Bram Stoker's Dracula, and featuring the real-life persons of Queen Marie of Romania, her daughter Ileana and other family members and friends. The writing was evocative, specifically in descriptions of the countryside, the native dress, and the weather. That the weather here was sunny while I read helped me relate to the heat of the summer in which the story was set. As in other novels of this series, I found King's descriptions of landscapes, road networks, and floor plans tedious and hard to fully grasp, but they did feature prominently in the storyline, so may be worth more study than I gave them. Yet I would prefer to leave the scrutiny of such details to the story's detectives, Russell and Holmes. The pair begin to suspect the perpetrator, among a set of suspects, about 2/3rd of the way through the book, and the person's guilt does become apparent before events climax. The motivation behind the actions came as more of a surprise. It was odd that the story reflected in the book's title, Castle Shade, was a minor storyline; the main story could have been told without it. It was, however, an interesting historical aspect that could have featured more prominently. I enjoyed learning about Romania's history as of the mid-1920s, and joining Russell and Holmes on another case. But the dynamics between the duo were not as enjoyable as they have been in other books, nor did Russell seem to be "on her game" for much of the book. The book was entertaining, but won't lodge as one of my top picks of the series (it ranks above Pirate King and Riviera Gold, but below O Jerusalem, Justice Hall, The Language of Bees, The God of the Hive, ... many of the others). The early 20th century was a fascinating period, and I hope the author can again feature history and culture as equally captivating third characters in the novels.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Eileen

    This is the only Mary Russell book I have not yet listened to (I've both read and listened to all the other ones at least twice), and although it took my brain some time to readjust, I really enjoyed this one. Perhaps it's because I've always been fascinated by the legends of Dracula, but I really enjoyed this one more than some of the most recent ones, partly because it felt more like the old Holmes/Russell partnership. There is definitely a shifting of perspectives from one to the other, altho This is the only Mary Russell book I have not yet listened to (I've both read and listened to all the other ones at least twice), and although it took my brain some time to readjust, I really enjoyed this one. Perhaps it's because I've always been fascinated by the legends of Dracula, but I really enjoyed this one more than some of the most recent ones, partly because it felt more like the old Holmes/Russell partnership. There is definitely a shifting of perspectives from one to the other, although Russell's portions are written in first-person POV and Holmes' sections are written in third-person POV. This book continues on from their adventures in Monte Carlo and the Riviera (two previous books) and the situation in this book is alluded to in the last one. Queen Marie of Roumania is having some unusual things happening in Castle Bran (a gift to her from the residents) that potentially threaten her or her daughter. If it were just herself, she might not even bother, but her daughter seems to be in potential danger. I absolutely loved the feel of this book, with the history of the people and the country, and even the politics of the time were not annoying distractions. The castle sounded like something that would be fun to explore and the inclusion of some of the modern amenities in Russell's suite was rather fun to imagine. I loved the investigative parts they each did on their own as well as the parts they did together. Without revealing any spoilers, I loved the midnight ride at the ending! It was fun to imagine the entire scene up to and including the ending, haha! Overall, this one felt a lot more like the early adventures that I loved so much, except Mary and Sherlock know each other so much better! I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

  27. 4 out of 5

    4cats

    This is the first Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes novel I've read and must admit didn't know what to expect. The reason I've jumped in at 17 was the setting, Holmes is requested by the Queen of Roumania to help her out as there are incidents taking place in her favourite home, Bran Castle where Vlad Terpes was allegedly held. Is there a vampire on the loose? Is there a political motive? Or is there another reason for these incidents? Easy to read, I wasn't really sure about the Mr and Mrs Holmes? Wo This is the first Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes novel I've read and must admit didn't know what to expect. The reason I've jumped in at 17 was the setting, Holmes is requested by the Queen of Roumania to help her out as there are incidents taking place in her favourite home, Bran Castle where Vlad Terpes was allegedly held. Is there a vampire on the loose? Is there a political motive? Or is there another reason for these incidents? Easy to read, I wasn't really sure about the Mr and Mrs Holmes? Would I read another.....possibly.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Antoinette

    Queen Marie of Roumania calls upon Homes to investigate strange events in the vicinity of her castle Bran, the gift to her by the Roumanian people. Russell and Holmes find clues that link the events to either political upheavals or personal vendettas. Russell is abducted, foreshadowing the abduction of a young woman employed by the castle. Wonderful atmosphere, complex plot, interesting characters. Recommended to readers of historic mysteries.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Johnson

    Hard to believe this is the 17th book in this series. I recently watched an interview with Laurie King and Barbara Peters from The Poisoned Pen and they showed photos of their visit to Castle Bran and Romania and talked about how that turned into this book. Fascinating! Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I am an admirer of Laurie King’s Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell novels, but found this particular adventure less enjoyable than previous books. The vampire lore failed to interest or entertain me, and instead, became tedious. Despite that, I admire what Ms. King has achieved with the characters and the series and will look forward to future books in the series. NetGalley provided me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a candid review.

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