Blood and Ink Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway

Blood and Ink
by D.K. Marley

Publication Date: March 28, 2018
The White Rabbit Publishing
ebook, Paperback, and Audible; 438 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

In the tradition of “The Marlowe Papers” by Ros Barber, the debut historical fiction novel “Blood and Ink” tells the story of Christopher “Kit” Marlowe, the dark and brooding playwright of Queen Elizabeth’s court. Marlowe sells his soul to gain the one thing he desires: to see his name immortalized.

Inspired at an early age on the banks of the Stour River, his passion for a goose quill and ink thrusts him into the labyrinth of England’s underworld – a secret spy ring created by the Queen’s spymaster, Sir Frances Walsingham.

Kit suffers the whips and scorns of time as he witnesses the massacre of Paris, the hypocrisy of the church, the rejection from his ‘dark lady,’ the theft of his identity as a playwright, and wrenching loss breathing life into many of his unforgettable characters.

As he sinks further into the clutches of Walsingham, a masque is written by his own hand to save his life from shadowing betrayers, from the Queen’s own Star Chamber, and from the Jesuit assassins of Rome, thus sending him into exile and allowing an unknown actor from Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare, to step into his shoes.

And so begins the lie; and yet, what will a man not do to regain his name?

“DK Marley’s exhaustively researched and spryly written novel Blood and Ink follows in the tradition of such minor-key classics as Anthony Burgess’ A Dead Man in Deptford, and the central premise of Marley’s book—that Marlowe only faked his death in 1593 in order to escape the attentions of the Privy Council—will be familiar to followers of the Shakespearean authorship question (Shakespeare, needless to say, features prominently here). Marley has sifted through a phenomenal amount of research, but along the way she hasn’t forgotten to tell a first-rate and gripping story, adorned in many places by some very pretty turns of phrase. We may never have a final resolution to the tangled questions Marley raises, but as long as we get such strong and enjoyable novels as this one out of the tangle, we shouldn’t complain.” -Historical Novel Society

Amazon (eBook) | Amazon (Paperback)

My Review

I did not know anything about Marlowe his connection with Shakespeare, or much about this time period at all when I picked up this novel. I think it really helped me to connect with the story even more, as every little detail was brand new information to me.

Kit has his innocence ripped away from him at a young age, as his parents sell him to the Queen’s spymaster at the tender age of 8. He wants to become a playwright and his angel guides his education, but even his angel can’t shield him from the horrors he sees in Paris with the Catholic Church burning Protestants at the stake. Then, he is brought into the spy ring of Walsingham and is forced to commit acts that he never believed he would. He doesn’t let go of his dream of becoming the Queen’s playwright, keeping it in the back of his mind as he works for Walsingham.

William Shakespeare wanted to become an actor, and then he was tied down by a 27-year-old wife with a child on the way at only 18 years old. He doesn’t know if he will be able to succeed in his dreams, but he is determined not to give up. He also wants to be there for his son.

The world-building in this novel was incredible, yet natural. It was mostly built through dialogue, but many of the scenes did include a description of the surroundings. This drew me into the story, and I constantly wanted to learn more about Kit and his dysfunctional world. Each and every character had a role in the story, whether it be Kit’s little sister that he left behind when he was sold or the little boy that he immediately despised after playing a couple rounds of a game. It is important to remember the small details in order to pick up on hints spread throughout the book. Even though I usually have a problem remembering non-main characters, I surprised myself by being able to remember almost every character that I encountered.

There was a lot of character development in this story as both Shakespeare and Marlowe transform from young boys into men with families, dreams, and fears. I won’t spoil too much, but it was definitely worth the read.

Also, even though I didn’t know much about this time period, I could tell that this book was well-researched. Everything seemed to match up with what little I had learned in history class about England of the 1500s, and it just seemed to make sense. Even though it is fiction, the characters seemed real.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new historical fiction novel with intense Shakespearean themes and excellent worldbuilding.

I received an advance copy of this novel and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. 

About the Author

D. K. Marley is a historical fiction writer specializing in Shakespearean themes. Her grandmother, an English Literature teacher, gave her a volume of Shakespeare’s plays when she was eleven, inspiring DK to delve further into the rich Elizabethan language. Eleven years ago she began the research leading to the publication of her first novel “Blood and Ink,” an epic tale of lost dreams, spurned love, jealousy and deception in Tudor England as the two men, William Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, fight for one name and the famous works now known as the Shakespeare Folio. She is an avid Shakespearean / Marlowan, a member of the Marlowe Society, the Shakespeare Fellowship and a signer of the Declaration of Intent for the Shakespeare Authorship Debate. She has traveled to England three times for intensive research and debate workshops, and is a graduate of the intense training workshop “The Writer’s Retreat Workshop” founded by Gary Provost and hosted by Jason Sitzes. She lives in Georgia with her husband and a Scottish Terriers named Maggie and Buster.

For more information, please visit D.K. Marley’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 16
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, July 17
Review at Oh, October

Wednesday, July 18
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Thursday, July 19
Review at Bri’s Book Nook

Friday, July 20
Review at A Darn Good Read
Review at Donna’s Book Blog

Monday, July 23
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, July 24
Interview at What Cathy Read Next

Wednesday, July 25
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 copies of Blood and Ink by D.K. Marley! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 25th. 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.

Blood and Ink


In A Time Never Known Review

In a Time Never KnownAnna suffers daily at the hands of her abusive husband. She hates being in a loveless marriage and her only solace is her slave Mary. She meets a local shopkeeper named Benjamin, and the two fall in love. When she finds out that he is a Union spy, she is determined to help him in order to spite her proudly Confederate husband and fight for her only friend, Mary. She has to keep it a secret from her husband and her spoiled daughter Kady.

When her daughter fights out, her daughter also wants to join the spy ring. The two start to work together and end up growing closer as Kady learns more about her father’s true nature.

This was honestly one of the best historical fiction novels that I have ever read. It has multiple points of view that are revealed as the story goes on, and each character goes through so many different stages of development that they truly feel like real people. Kady has to go from being a spoiled brat to being a calm and collected young lady that knows how to keep secrets. Anna transforms from a scared sixteen-year-old girl who was forced to marry an abusive husband into the head of a spy ring. The character development was honestly the best part of the novel, as the multiple points of view allowed for some page time in many of the characters’ minds.

Even though this book was longer than what I usually spend my time reading, I definitely did not feel burdened in any way. I looked forward to reading the next 100 pages or so each night until I was finally done with the novel. The pacing was perfect. Even though it was a long novel, the pacing was steady, just enough to keep readers alert but not fast enough to confuse them.

The world-building was also impeccable. By reading this, I was able to see the war-torn South of the 1800s for a few hours. Every scene is so well-described that it feels as if you were actually there. Even with the POV changes, each character leads their own lives in different areas, and the story represents that. The book seemed completely historically accurate, which is difficult sometimes for historical fiction novels to accomplish. This worldbuilding only added pages of description into the novel, but it still did not feel clunky or bulky in any way.

There were no editing errors that I saw in the entire 665-page ebook, which is definitely something worthy of praise. It was a smooth read all the way through, not even any easy-to-miss formatting errors.

My favorite character in this novel would definitely be Anna, as she fights so hard throughout the book just to stay positive and strong. She could have given up and just become silent at 16, never finding Benjamin, because she was so afraid of her husband. But instead, she went behind his back and undermined his work, along with the work of the other Confederates. She fought for Mary,  who was her saving grace since she was sixteen. She could be such a role model, even as a fictional character. My second favorite character was Kady, as she changes from a spoiled Southern Belle who thinks her father could do no wrong to a sneaky and deceptive spy for her mother.

Overall, I have nothing bad to say about this book! You just have to give it a read for yourself.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves historical fiction, romance novels, mystery novels, and novels with amazing world-building and character development.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 6/5

The Sleepwalker Review

The Sleepwalker (Cherub, #9)

An airliner explodes over the Atlantic ocean, killing 345 people. As usual, the crash investigators and the media blame terrorism before anything else, but this cannot be confirmed as the cause.

When a twelve-year-old calls a police hotline while distressed, blaming his father for the plane crash. The Cherubs are sent in to investigate and try to help the boy, but it may lead nowhere as the boy has a history of violence and emotional problems.

James is now getting too old for the regular missions, and so he has to do work experience. He lands a job at the literal worst place, a fast-food restaurant. He also has to work with his ex-girlfriend, Kerry. How is he going to get through this?

This book focuses on Lauren and Jake, as they are now of age to go on full missions. They are also around the age of Fahim, the boy who reported his father. Fahim is a twelve-year-old Muslim boy who has an abusive father, and who is bullied at school nearly every day. His father usually takes out his anger on his mother, but he has started to move to him as well. Fahim doesn’t know how much more he can take before he breaks.

This book has definitely been one of the better Cherub books, with the addressing of some popular social issues. Fahim may be a fictional boy, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t real kids who have his issues. It is sad that he suffers from both bullying at school and abuse at home. Luckily he was able to find friends in the Cherub members, but in real life, this might not be the case.

The biggest problem that I had with this book was its portrayal of Muslim children and families. I have several friends in real life who are Muslim and live in a city where there are a multitude of different religions. The only two kids that are Muslim that I have seen in this whole series have been in this book. One of the kids ate bacon, saying that he is “more Muslim some days than others”, and the other kid had an abusive/crazed father. I would be fine with it if there were other representations of Muslim kids in this series. But when the only two kids in the series either don’t follow the rules of their religion or have abusive parents, I start to question it. I hope that they will be portrayed in a more positive light in more books to come.

I did appreciate the fact that James was a lesser character in this novel, as I can’t seem to make myself like him any longer. I only hope that Jake will have some more defining character traits. For half the book, I was reading Jake as James and thought that he was on the mission even though they were two separate characters. As the series comes to a close, I want to see more growth from Lauren and her friends Jake and Bethany.

The book started off slow and it took me from before winter break until now to actually finish it. By the time I got to the middle, I was finally drawn in enough to actually finish the novel. The old cover was one of my least favorite covers in the entire series, as it really didn’t fit the title and actually rather confused me. The Sleepwalker actually refers to Fahim’s emotional distress and has nothing to do with the plane. The new cover isn’t as bad, but I still wish that the title had more to do with the actual story.

Overall, this wasn’t the best book in the Cherub series because of some of the issues, but it wasn’t the worst. I would rate it 3/5, but the slowness of the beginning of the plot and the character issues make me take a point off, as it took me far too long to get through this 336-page book.

Overall Rating: 2/5