Reviews, Scottish Reads


On the evening of March 9th, 1566, David Rizzio, the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots, was brutally murdered. Dragged from the chamber of the heavily pregnant Mary, Rizzio was stabbed fifty six times by a party of assassins. This breathtakingly tense novella dramatises the events that led up to that night, telling the infamous story as it has never been told before.

A dark tale of sex, secrets and lies, Rizzio looks at a shocking historical murder through a modern lens—and explores the lengths that men and women will go to in their search for love and power.

This was my first Denise Mina book and what an introduction it was. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I gave it 4 stars and it’s a high 4, like a 4 and a half.

In primary school, my classmates and I were mildly obsessed with learning about the Scottish Royal Family. When I saw that this book was about Mary, Queen of Scot’s’ best pal Rizzio, I knew I wanted to read it.

The murder of Rizzio was something that I did know about (because of all off my childhood research) and I really enjoyed a book that delved into what happened. I kept forgetting that this book was fiction! The book was peppered with facts that had previously been well documented and that made me forget that I was reading a novel.

I loved the character arc given to Mary. She was so strong and brave. Even when she felt like she had nobody on her side, she didn’t show any sign of weakness. She was truly a queen. Lord Darnley was a drunk, a daddy’s boy who had no thoughts of his own, and a follower. He believed that he was entitled to be king based solely on him being a man. I thought that the characters were written beautifully! They felt real. Obviously they were real people but they felt familiar. It almost read like an episode of Real Housewives of …the Renaissance. I felt so angry towards Darnley and it’s always impressive when an author can make you feel so passionately about a character.

The imagery of this book was amazing. I really felt like I could imagine the castle. It’s a castle that I have only the vaguest of memories of but it really came alive! The perks of growing up in the Scottish Borders was that we had so many historical buildings nearby and got to visit a lot of cool places. This may have fuelled my primary school obsession with the Scottish Royals.

This book was a novella so it was super short and was easily consumed in one sitting. I read this in two sittings though because I had to travel and didn’t want to take a partially read book with me as I knew it was too short to last the journey so I put it aside for later.

I think that this was an excellent introduction to this very well known Scottish author. This definitely won’t be the last book that I read by this author as I’m so keen to find more goodies. Also, on the day that I started reading this book, I went to Glasgow and Denise Mina cycled past me on Sauchiehall Street (she was wearing a glorious green cardigan). That seemed like some sort of sign that I was going to enjoy this book and I really did!

1 thought on “Rizzio”

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