I really wanted to love A Burnable Book. I’ve really enjoyed C.J. Sansom’s work, which is in some ways similar, and I like taking historical figures like Chaucer and Gower and playing with them in fiction. What’s more, I was in Bruce Holsinger’s MOOC last year just because the book was released, which was fascinating. I really enjoyed his take on historical fiction and the work he put into the MOOC; I liked his style of lecturing, and kinda wished I could do a whole course with him. So I was preeetty excited when he sent me a copy to review.
Unfortunately, the book itself didn’t work for me. It’s not the historical basis — I trust Holsinger on that! — but something less easy to put my finger on. I guess I just didn’t like the way he expressed the characters, the way the story spun out. I liked the choice of characters, the down-to-earth-ness of it all; this isn’t some romanticised past. But sadly… it just couldn’t keep my attention, and I struggled with it.
Still, if you like your historical fiction to be accurate and well researched, you can definitely trust Holsinger for that. I don’t agree with the really negative reviews about the author showing off or whatever, I just didn’t get on with it personally.