It's 1385, and around London, rumors are spreading of a book that allegedly predicted the deaths of the thirteen English kings since the conquest, including the imminent demise of the reigning king, young Richard II. John Gower is asked by Chaucer to use his connections to find it. A young woman has already been killed for it, and the book has fallen into the hands of Southwark prostitutes who don't know how dangerous it is, also tying into plots overseas.
This is a fascinating, twisty literary thriller. The cover text compares it to The Name of the Rose, and while there's less philosophy to it, there's every bit as much medieval atmosphere. At first I had to consult the "cast of characters" list regularly to help keep straight the names I wasn't familiar with from history, but after a few switches back and forth between characters I got the feel of them. This is a dense but highly rewarding work that keeps revealing new layers and new mysteries all the way to the end.
Overall grade: A
A Burnable Book will be released on February 18