Book Review: The Medievalist by Anne-Marie Lacy

The Medievalist, Anne-Marie Lacy

Expected Publication: October 31st 

Historian Jane Lyons has been having recurring nightmares about her distant ancestor King Richard III for years. She has dedicated her academic career to finding evidence to prove that Richard did not in fact murder his young nephews-the Princes in the Tower-as   is commonly believed. When she is presented with the opportunity to volunteer at the archeological dig site of Richard’s recently discovered grave in a car park in Leicester, England, she jumps at the chance. Perhaps here she will find the evidence she has been searching for.

Instead, Jayne finds a silver boar artifact that when held in her hands, somehow transports her back in time to the fifteenth-century. In the next instance she finds herself in the middle of a chaotic medieval camp, and soon finds herself face to face with the flesh and blood man she has spent years studying. Jayne must learn to navigate the dangers of the past in order to survive in King Richard III’s traveling army camp. After her path continues to cross with that of the king, she and Richard soon enter into a romantic relationship. But as she falls further in love, Jayne worries if she will ever return home again, and if she will be able to stomach the truth of Richard’s guilt or innocence. Is the man she is falling for indeed the infamous murderer maligned by history?

I was disappointed in Jayne as a heroine. I didn’t find her dynamic and didn’t understand her motives much of the time. I finished reading feeling as if I didn’t know her well enough, especially considering all the time we spent together. Her reactions to many of the events that befell her-specifically the whole falling through time thing-didn’t ring very true to me. I was hoping to read more about Jayne’s difficulties in adjusting to the fifteenth-century. Instead, she seemed to almost breeze through the cultural differences and to automatically fit in with those around her.

I did like the fact that the narrative switched back and forth between Jayne and Richard’s perspectives. Having them both as narrators definitely enhanced the emotional drama of the novel and heightened the stakes. I also became more invested in Richard’s fate, and like Jayne, hoped for a different outcome than the one we know from history. Ultimately however, I  felt that all the characters could have been fleshed out more. I bought that Richard and Jayne were “in lust” with each other, but not that they were in love. Lacy didn’t manage to convince me that their’s was a great love story.

I think this novel suffered a bit from a reliance on “telling vs. showing.” The writing  could’ve been stronger if Lacy had let readers observe some of the drama unfolding instead of simply having her characters relay information. Some of the dialogue felt rather stilted as well. Along the same lines, I thought The Medievalist was lacking a bit in descriptive elements. I would have loved to see even more detailed descriptions of the settings and enhanced historical details. There were also some unanswered questions, particularly in regards to the time travel.

The prose was nothing special, but the plot was engaging enough to hold my interest throughout. There’s a good balance of history, mystery, and romance; and enough drama to keep this a page-turning read. The ending-although a tad cliché-was satisfying.

Overall, I found The Medievalist to be an entertaining-if not noteworthy-read. This book had potential but was lacking the depth needed to make it a great read. I did find it fun to escape to the fifteenth-century for a few hours and this was an easy book to breeze through. Readers who enjoy time-slip novels, historical fiction, and the medieval period may find something to appreciate in this novel as well.


**A huge thank you to NetGalley and City Owl press for the opportunity to read and review this ARC in exchange for an honest review**


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