DIRECT BOOK REVIEWS
EVA'S SECRET: Heirs of Andalusia
Author: Emily Cotton
Reviewer: Florence Osmund
A blend of fascinating characters, a multilayered plot, and intrigue whisks readers into EVA’S SECRET: HEIRS OF ANDALUSIA. A well-researched setting in the brutal world of the Spanish Inquisition completes this engaging and compelling story.
In search of her beloved cat, Eva de Pazia leaves the safety of the convent where has taken refuge from the murderous man she is destined to marry. The year is 1513, and as she heads for her former home, she is wary of running into Inquisitors—an institution of tortuous men who strike fear in the hearts of Jews, Muslims and some Christians. Shortly after she arrives, she is captured and groomed to be with Baseel Alcazar, a ruthless Saracen who is feared by all. The panic she endures at the thought of marriage, intimacy, and lack of freedom is daunting. When she discovers she and her brother Elias are being held captive in the same place, Eva clandestinely reunites with him. Together, they plan an elaborate escape. However, things don’t go as planned, causing Eva uncertainty as to what she really wants out of life.
Cotton is masterful at integrating fictional narrative with historical facts, resulting in a good balance of realism and fantasy that humanizes the past and brings history to life. Details of the time period—social norms, manners, customs, and traditions—feel authentic and serve to advance the story realistically.
Shaped by the setting, the characters in EVA’S SECRET transport readers through time and connect them on a human level with the 16th century via their actions, speech, and appearances. An intimate portrayal of the protagonist affirms her being torn between accepting a subservient role in an arranged marriage, finding real love, and dedicating her life to helping others. Strong characterization enables readers early on in the book to gain a keen sense of all the personalities in the story and their complexities. The clever use of Tabita the cat’s POV in the narrative not only allows for dramatic irony but also provides a perspective that would not be possible from any human.
The narrative is well-structured in general, but it becomes confusing when it is not immediately clear if the events are current or part of the backstory, especially when they appear out of chronological order. A thorough proofreading of this book would eliminate typos and errors in punctuation, spelling, and capitalization.
On a scale of 1 to 5, EVA’S SECRET: HEIRS OF ANDALUSIA is rated 4.0 by Direct Book Reviews.