Review: The Serpent’s Tale by Ariana Franklin


When King Henry II’s mistress is found poisoned, suspicion falls on his estranged queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. The king orders Adelia Aguilar, expert in the science of death, to investigate-and hopefully stave off civil war. A reluctant Adelia finds herself once again in the company of Rowley Picot, the new Bishop of St. Albans…and her baby’s father. Their discoveries into the crime are shocking- and omens of greater danger to come.

My Review

This is the story surrounding the bizarre death of Rosamund, mistress of Henry II and a hypothetical attempt of Queen Eleanor to raise a rebellion in England while young King Henry is collaborating with the King of France. Our protagonist, the stubborn, wilful, and medically knowledgeable Adelia Aguilar, is ordered by the king to investigate the death of Rosamund in order to determine whether Eleanor had anything to do with it. If the queen is guilty, civil war might ensue. We experience the labyrinth surrounding Rosamund’s hideaway, as Adelia is brought to the poisoned victim’s room where she had been copying her own “poisoned letters” to Eleanor. Adelia is interrupted by the queen herself, who has managed to secretly slip across the Channel and came in person to gloat over her rival.

Eleanor’s stop at Rosamund’s tower was only a detour to Oxford, where her followers were gathering. Taking Adelia with her, the Queen’s party sailed down the Thames, only to be overcome by a tremendous snowstorm that obliged them to take shelter at the nunnery of Godstow, where Adelia’s natural daughter happened to be staying with her guardians. This was both good and bad, since the queen’s party was virtually imprisoned by the weather for the next several days, and many nasty events occurred that Adelia couldn’t ignore, even at the risk of life and limb. Murders, threats, and betrayals followed one another as Adalia tried to decipher events and motives. “There had been two lots of murder, she knew that now, neither one having anything to do with the other, only the fact that she’d witnessed the corpses of both within a short time had given them a seeming relationship”. And so it goes. This was a complicated and convoluted plot, and I wasn’t exactly sure how she jumped to the correct conclusions as to who was the murderer. But it certainly kept me going until the end.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *