Rarely do I ever pick up an historical fiction; I’m not sure why, I love history, and being entertained by true but unknown stories.
I read Reign of Madness in one day. I began at 8am, while the child I nanny was watching Curious George. I finished 14 hours later, relaxing in the bathtub at my home. I couldn’t put it down.
Once I figured out who each character was and settled into the formal dialogue, the story flowed like water from a raincloud. I found myself immersed in history, intrigue, love, violence, lies, and happiness. Reign of Madness gives you rare insight into a 15th century royal family, and, while the details are fiction, depicts a way of life that is shocking, yet not fully unexpected.
The story follows Juana, a princess who, through unexpected mishaps, becomes heir to the Spanish throne. We first meet her as a young child, and as the chapters pass she moves to teen to wife to mother, all whilst chronicling her daily life.
There actually was a Queen Juana the Mad in the early 15th century; as the story goes, upon her husband’s death she was locked into a tower and not seen for around 45 years. Since that is all that history offers, Lynn Cullen decided to do some research and constructed a beautiful story that seems altogether realistic. She captured the dialogue, thoughts, settings, and characters perfectly. She achieved excellent character development and I found myself loving, cheering for, and even hating certain characters.
Lynn Cullen has found her niche, and I look forward to other stories that she may have hiding up her sleeve.