“History was rather wasted on the young, who had yet to discover that looking back could sometimes be a lot more instructive than looking forward.”
*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Head Of Zeus in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***
I always love a good historical fiction read and when I first heard about Court Of Lions the story just ticked al the right boxes for me. This novel by Jane Johnson is partly set in the 15th century, partly in the present and predominantly takes place in Granada. This Spanish city is hands down one of the favorite places I was able to visit during my stay in Spain eight years ago and Court Of Lions without doubt brought back great memories. When I started reading this novel I had really high expectations and I initially found myself enjoying both storylines despite them being completely different. Unfortunately this feeling didn’t last. While initially I found myself to be curious about Kate’s character and devoured the many descriptions of the Spanish city and the Alhambra in the contemporary chapters, I was suddenly put off by the arrival of a few very graphic scenes and adult content. Especially the second is always a huge turn off for me and instantly made me enjoy both the storyline and characters a lot less. Sure, Kate’s history is without doubt both terrifying and intriguing, but for me the storyline fell mostly flat for me and I wasn’t sure what to think of the chapters set in the UK either. The romance was also quite cliche and trigger warnings are in place for abuse and other sensitive themes. It is true that the pace is a lot faster in the contemporary chapters than the historical ones… But this doesn’t take away that I still wish Court Of Lions would have just focused on the chapters set in the 15th century. The historical storyline is both well developed, well researched and very interesting to read. Blessings is without doubt a fascinating character despite the fact that Blessings did do some things that bothered me at times… And the final reveal out Blessing’s secret came as a HUGE surprise. I loved reading about Momo and Blessings growing up and their relationship evolve and change. There were some cliches involved (love triangle!), but overall it’s impressive just how much these chapters stand out from the contemporary ones. I honestly believe the storylines would have worked out better as two completely different novels… There isn’t all that much connection between the two and both seem to have a different target group. It breaks my heart to give Blessings and Momo’s story just a 3 star rating, but Kate’s storyline did make me enjoy Court Of Lions considerably less than expected.
It has been a year since Kate arrived in the city of Granada and she currently works as a waitress serving tourists in a bar. She pretends to be happy with her new life, but something dark is brewing under the surface… And she might be forced to deal with her past soon. It all starts when she finds a scrap of paper pressed into one of the Alhambra’s walls. A paper that has been there since the Fall of Granada and the expulsion of the last Sultan, although Kate doesn’t realize that when she finds it… And she doesn’t realize just how big of an effect this paper will have on her life.
I was looking forward to read Court Of Lions as soon as I read the blurb. This novel seemed to combine two of my favorite things: historical fiction and Spain. I have wonderful memories of the city of Granada and this story without doubt triggered them. I enjoyed reading the many descriptions of the city and I loved the historical storyline and its characters. I probably would have given Court Of Lions a much higher rating if it would have been just that storyline… Because I wasn’t as charmed by the contemporary chapters. I couldn’t connect to Kate or the other characters, had a negative reaction to the adult content and wasn’t sure about the cliches either. Her history is without doubt both frightening and intriguing, but reading about it just didn’t work for me. Such a shame!