Full disclosure, historical fiction is high on the list of things I avoid reading. No judgments against those who enjoy it, I just find it a bit silly, trying to force the characters into unlikely scenarios that inevitably are interesting historical events. For this, and many other reasons I’ll enumerate later on, I REALLY disliked The Mammoth Book of Jacobean Whodunnits.
The Jacobean period is generally considered during the reign of James I of England. For those who love British History, it is a rich period of various reforms and great changes in the United Kingdom. But most people know only that Guy Fawkes was involved in a plot to blow up Parliament during this era, without quite understanding what it was about. Each story has a different author, many of them tackle historical characters that are familiar, Shakespeare, Pocohantas, etc. For me these stories are nothing short of implausibly ridiculous. Often times, due to the length, the writing is poor. Ideas aren’t fully developed. Characters are ludicrously one dimensional. The stories don’t even stick to the actual Jacobean period.
I suppose the saving grace, for me, was that the stories were mercifully short. If I really disliked one, I knew that in a few pages it would be over. I also find it hard to suspend my disbelief. Witchcraft, adultery, teen pregnancy, sure they no doubt happened, but not at the scale these stories represent, and I’m sure the authors would argue that is why it is called historical fiction, but I was unimpressed. I could not think of a single person to whom I’d recommend this book.