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Friday, December 1, 2017

Book Review: Isabella Unashamed by Helen R. Davis and Carolina Casas

02_Isabella Unashamed
Isabella Unashamed: An Alternative History by Helen R. Davis and Carolina Casas
ARC, e-Book, 147 pages
Editorial Caliope
September 7, 2017
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Genre: Alternate Historical Fiction

Source: Received for tour with HFVBT

Isabella of Castile is known as Europe's first great queen. Renowned for her marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon and birthing of modern day Spain, Isabella is also known as the queen who launched the Inquisition, completed the Reconquista and expelled the Jews from her nation. Not long after her triumph in 1492, her dynasty came apart and unraveled, and it was whispered by many that the Trastamara line was cursed.

But, What if Isabella had been wiser and not expelled the Jews, some of the very people who ironically helped put her on the throne of Castile? What if Isabella had had more foresight and had her successor be Catalina, who, although the youngest, was the most like her and the wisest of her children? How would the power balance of 15th and 16th century Europe shifted if Catalina had been the powerful queen regnant of Spain and not one of the 'merry wives' of Windsor?

A joint effort, Isabella Unashamed is written by two authors from very different cultural backgrounds who have nonetheless joined together to create a haunting portrait of Spain's most famous queen, as well as a glimpse of what might have been had Isabella been wiser.

I can count on one hand how many alternative fiction novels I have read. I am extremely selective when it comes to this subgenre of historical fiction because I find them to be more believable when small, but important changes occur rather than sweeping historical changes. I was drawn to Isabella Unashamed because of just these reasons. The changes to the historical timeline include Isabella’s choice to not expel the Jews and to not leave the dynasty in the hands of her daughter Juana (la loca), but instead chose Catalina. I feel that the choices here made complete sense to these historical characters. The rationale that is used for the decisions Isabella makes could have absolutely been considerations that she would have contemplated. My favorite change was watching Catalina grow into a future Spanish queen rather than a fated English queen. It wasn’t a huge leap to have to make to get on board with this new, revised timeline. For those reasons, I really appreciated this piece within the genre.

I did have some struggles with this novel. The writing felt dense and heavy. When this is combined with how the majority of the events that occur are sad/complex/or less than positive, it slowed down the narrative and it took me longer to read this novel that the page length would suggest. There were not any lighter notes to lift the narrative. I also feel that there was an expectation that the reader is already familiar with the actual history as it occurred, which I can sort of understand as why would a reader be interested in the alternative if they don’t know what actually occurred. That being said, I am familiar with the actual history and I found myself being lost in the context sometimes.

I did enjoy this novel and I still look at this genre in the same light in which I did before, I think it just needed a little tightening up of the narrative.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book:

Also by Helen R. Davis:

Evita: My Argentina

cleopatra unconquered
Cleopatra Unconquered

the most happy
The Most Happy

This is Carolina Casas’ debut novel.

Find Helen R. Davis:
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Find Carolina Casas: Blog | Twitter | Goodreads


As part of the blog tour there is a tour-wide giveaway of an eBook of Isabella Unashamed! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.  If you have questions, please contact the tour coordinator.  Good luck!

Giveaway Rules

  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 7th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Isabella Unashamed

Follow the Tour!

Release Graphic

On the HFVBT website or on Twitter: #IsabellaUnashamedBlogTour

Monday, November 27
Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, November 28
Feature at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Wednesday, November 29
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, November 30
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Friday, December 1
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Interview at Author Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Saturday, December 2
Feature at WS Momma Readers Nook

Monday, December 4
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Tuesday, December 5
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Feature at The Hungry Bookworm

Wednesday, December 6
Feature at Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang!

Thursday, December 7
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for hosting Helen and Carolina's Blog Tour & your review of Isabella Unashamed, Heather!

    HF Virtual Book Tours


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