Shadow On The Crown | Patricia Bracewell | Audiobook Review

Why Did I Listen To This Audiobook:

As soon as I saw Shadow On The Crown by Patricia Bracewell in a review pitch, I absolutely knew I had to listen to the audiobook. You see, I filled up a ton of my college career with medieval history classes, looking back I am pretty sure I took all of the ones my school offered, AS ELECTIVES. Lawd, I was a nerd. Still am. Anyways, so Shadow On The Crown covers Emma of Normandy’s early years of marriage to Æthelred of England and well, it’s just as interesting as history class, but perhaps more so because Bracewell has creative license and we get to really dive into the various motivations of historical people.

Shadow On The Crown by Patricia Bracewell | Good Books And Good Wine

What’s The Story Here:

At the age of 15, Emma is sent from Normandy to England, a place she’s never been to wed old King Æthelred. FYI just typing that made me feel old as I’m 10 years older than Emma. In England, she finds a cool reception from the King who is actually kind of a huge asshole to her. Not only that, but this woman, Elgiva is totally gorgeous and has her sights set on the King and the crown. Of course. So, what’s Emma to do? HAVE A BABY to cement her place. But, more than that, Emma makes the people fall in love with her, because she’s awesome. Anyways, Emma is lonely and out of that loneliness comes an inappropriate relationship. And just, all the sighs. AND YES YOU GUYS, I totally wikipediaed the history, because I need to make sure of some things.

So, Emma, How Is She As Main Character:

Ugh, I just cannot with all of my feelings for Emma. Seriously, SHE IS THE BEST. Like, I knew I liked her when I learned about her in class, but I totally like her way more now that I’ve listened to a book about her. She might not be leading the battle with a sword or anything, but she’s still totally kick ass. Emma is the sort of character who is strong for her time. She’s incredibly courageous. She has a lot of hardship and has been dealt quite a few bad hands. Yet, to me, it’s not what happens to her, but how she reacts. And I have to say, I completely admired her, even when she commits a few indiscretions. In her place, I probably would have done the same.

What About Your Feels For Elgiva:

One of the point of view characters in Bracewell’s Shadow On The Crown is the lady who wants to knock Emma out of the way, Elgiva. Straight up, she is THE WORST. Oh my goodness. She’s scheming and manipulative. She comes across as fake and not nearly as genuine as Emma. I mean, okay, yes she doesn’t really have a whole lot of options, so maybe going after the crown is the best she can do, but ugh. I just did not like her at all.

Is This Is Kissing Book?:

Ya know, for a book that is set in a time when people were gross and dirty, there were actually a few reprieves. Like, thank goodness there was something to swoon over. There’s definitely romance and kissing in Shadow On The Crown. I know I could not help but ship two characters and hope against hope that they would get together. This is where my wikipedia-ing comes into play, because I totally went and looked to see if that happened.

How’s The Narration:

Katie Firth is the narrator of the Shadow On The Crown audiobook. She’s actually a new to me narrator, which I tend to be kind of hesitant about. Anyways, I actually really liked her voice. She does medieval well and manages to sound sort of youthful – exactly how I’d expect 15 year old Emma to sound. Her voice also has a serious sort of tenor to it. And I have to say, I really, really like her narration a lot more than other historical fictions I’ve listened to where the narrators sound like very old ladies. ANYWAYS. This one’s definitely worth listening to on your commutes or during your walks and runs. It is 13 hours and 40 minutes unabridged and produced by Penguin Audio.

Sum It Up With A GIF:

George Costanza Eating Popcorn GIF | Good Books And Good Wine

LOL, okay so this GIF is not entirely accurate, but every time an Elgiva part came up, that was totally my face as I was listening. Also? There’s so much drama and this si totally one of those smart popcorn books.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher

Other reviews of Shadow On The Crown by Patricia Bracewell:

A Reader Of Fictions – “beautiful writing and vibrant characters
Respiring Thoughts – “easy to follow along with and get engaged with
Giraffe Days – “a finely crafted novel that tells a heartfelt story

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. ‘Is this a kissing book? LOL. love a Princess Bride reference.

  2. Is this a new review format? If so, love it! I’m all about some broken out sections.

    Anywho… I’m not too big into this time period, as in I don’t search out books written in this time period, but I was TOTALLY into it when I was younger, so whenever I come across one and read it, it’s very nostalgic.

    I do love fiction that’s based on real people’s lives. There’s just something about them that does it for me. I think because I can Google the people. 🙂

    • Thanks, I am not entirely sure if I will keep the format, but I did like changing it up a little and it helped me break out of a funk.

      Ahhh, see this sis my favorite time period to read. Interesting how some of us grow out of it and some don’t.

      YES! I love fiction based on real people too, especially because you can find out how the story ends after you close the book, ya know?

  3. BAHAHAHA, your Elgiva face! So accurate. What a scheming, whiny, bitchy BITCHFACE. Ugh. I hated her ass so much it’s a wonder she could sit down, okay?

    BUT Emma is the freaking best. I loved how strong she was, but that she was also believable as a woman from that time. Like, she was clearly acting out and she also sort of tried to be the woman who doesn’t, but that’s not her. Plus, the making the people love her like a boss thing. AND the romance was heartbreaking. That sort of thing usually doesn’t work for me, but Bracewell sold it. Though I did think of The Mists of Avalon when Morgaine accidentally gets married to the father instead of the son. lol.

  4. I became interested in this book after seeing Hannah at So Obsessed With talk about it, and even then I wondered how it would be as an audiobook. So YAY to you for telling me about that. I think after seeing both of you really like it, I’d like to read it even though it sounds a little bit ambitious for me as a person who loves historical slightly less than you guys. BUT I’M TOTALLY GETTING THERE. I really am. I have a feeling I’ll be all up in the historical fic loves pretty soon because I seem to have gotten a ton of those books lately by choice. Anyway, this one. On my to-read list. Undecided if in print or audio but thanks to YOU for giving me good info so I can make a wide decision. Great review, April! Love it.

  5. Another historical fiction book to add to my (ever-growing) pile? YAY. I’m thinking that this is a book that I MUST check out. Not only does it feature a period of history that sounds absolutely FASCINATING, but it also sounds like there’s a great story there. Great review!

  6. You had me from the beginning of this and when you talked about your love of Emma’s character so I went to Audible all excited….. and it’s not available – sad!

    I’ll check my libraries for this 🙂

  7. Loved this review! Thank you April. So glad you liked the book. VeganYANerds — Shadow on the Crown is available on Audible. I know because I downloaded it myself to listen to Katie Firth’s marvelous reading. Hope you find and enjoy it!