My sister brought to my attention that although I borrowed and read the second book in the Mistress of the Art of Death series I never blogged about it. The shame. It's been MONTHS. And it's sort of faded on me now, so I'll just do my best. It's set a while after the first one ended, and while Adelia and Rowley were lovers for a bit and have had a daughter, they are now estranged. He has become a bishop and seems to have truly found a calling too, she lives modestly (poorly) in the Fens with her friends.
The king's mistress is murdered with poisonous mushrooms, and Adelia is called in by the king to investigate. The plot turns out to be more convoluted than expected, with a coup staged by the jealous queen imprisoning them in a convent, and their lives being threatened by an assassin. I liked how the mistress lives in a tower surrounded by a maze of thorny bushes - it's a nice little hint at an origin of the Sleeping Beauty story. This may just be embellishing a legend, but I liked it.
I had, frankly, expected to like it less, being a sequel, but it's quite okay. The plot was a little much though, with things happening all over the place. It bothered me, don't know why… I think I got that cynical feeling that the author thought it would look good on film, maybe. I hate that feeling. However, it's great that it's not at all all lovey-dovey between Adelia and Rowley, because that would have been too simple and too obviously some sort of sponge-off Ellis Peters' and her optimistic view of the world. If my sister gets the third one I'll read that too.