Review of “The Arrow Chest” by Robert Parry

“London, 1876. The painter Amos Roselli is in love with his life-long friend and model, the beautiful Daphne – and she with him – until one day she is discovered by another man, a powerful and wealthy industrialist. What will happen when Daphne realises she has sacrificed her happiness to a loveless marriage? What will happen when the artist realises he has lost his most cherished source of inspiration? And how will they negotiate the ever-increasing frequency of strange and bizarre events that seem to be driving them inexorably towards self-destruction. Here, amid the extravagant Neo-Gothic culture of Victorian England, the iconic poem ‘The Lady of Shalott’ blends with mysterious and ghostly glimpses of Tudor history. Romantic, atmospheric and deeply dark.”

Captivating. Mysterious. Delightful.

I was lucky to receive my copy of “The Arrow Chest” from Robert Parry himself (signed!) and I was not disappointed. I started reading immediately when I received it and – it was a magnificent read! The whole story is set in Victorian England, but there are glimpses on Tudor era – and that was what caught my attention.

 The main character is handsome painter, Amos Roselli who comes to the Tower of London to sketch the remains of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s ill-fated wife who was beheaded back in 1536. There, sketching the remains of a woman who was a legend in her own times, Amos finds out about her story and from now on he will be seeing Anne Boleyn in many different places…or will he?

Amos, a struggling artist is a very talented man and soon he gets a commission that can open many doors for him. Wealthy industrialist, Oliver Ramsey, has hired Amos Roselli to paint his own portrait. Oliver’s wife is Amos’s former sweetheart and muse – Daphne is beautiful, enigmatic and she adores Amos. Amos soon learns from Daphne, that her marriage is far from being happy. Oliver Ramsey is a tyrant of a man who does not cherish his beautiful wife. He desires a son – male heir who would inherit all his wealth. Oliver watches Daphne and Amos closely, because he knows that they used to be good friends – after all Oliver met Daphne in Amos’s studio.

Many strange and rather mysterious events occur during Amos’s stay at Oliver Ramsey’s house. A mysterious lady keeps appearing and disappearing leaving Amos puzzled and even frightened. Who is she? Why does she look just like his beloved Daphne?

The story is paralleled with the story of Anne Boleyn. Do you see how? Amos Roselli is a love-struck poet Thomas Wyatt, a childhood friend of Anne Boleyn. Oliver Ramsey is no one else but Henry VIII. And Anne Boleyn? Well, Daphne is Anne Boleyn.

I found the book to be fascinating and mysterious. Robert Parry’s style of writing is incredible, almost like a poetry – the settings are very richly detailed and simply amazing. As the story progresses there are more and more parallels to Anne Boleyn and as a Tudor-maniac I smiled each time when I read something that reminded me of her.

Robert Parry took great care of details – I loved how Oliver Ramsey was the Lord Bowlend. When you read ‘Bowlend’ it sounds almost like ‘Boleyn’ and thus Daphne is Lady Bowlend (Lady Boleyn). There is a variety of characters in the novel, and they are all exquisite. Although the novel uses the Tudor parallel, it is not predictable – the question that haunted me when I was reading this breath-taking novel was; what will happen to Daphne? The conclusion was really great but I will not give it away – you will have to see for yourself.

Robert Parry’s “The Arrow Chest” is creative Gothic mystery full of suspense, with a Tudor twist. I heartily recommend it! I would like to thank Robert Parry for giving me a chance to read and review his beautiful novel – it was a pleasure.

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2 Responses
  1. Stephanie says:

    This is going to be my next read! So excited! :)

  2. Bridgett says:

    wonderful review — it was a bit of a break from reading non fiction stuff! i enjoyed it as well :)

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