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Reviewed by Jennifer Donovan for Readers' Favorite
Island of Gold by Amy Maroney is the first book in the Sea and Stone Chronicles series. This historical fiction novel begins in 15th century France. Sophie, the spoiled and headstrong daughter of a wealthy merchant, falls for a young man of noble birth named Cédric. Cédric, being a younger son, holds no land or title but has taken a position as a master falconer. Both are driven to achieve wealth and nobility, so when the opportunity arises, they sail to the Greek island of Rhodes with their children. The city immediately reveals its dark side, a foreboding preview of the turmoil to come. While Cédric focuses on his work and his desire to please his employer and secure his future noble status, Sophie begins planning for her family’s escape from the island amidst the growing threat of the Turkish invasion. Cédric can’t seem to avoid making dangerous enemies who seek to hurt him in the ways that matter, coming first for his falcons and then for his family.
Amy Maroney’s extensive research into the era is evident; even without the author’s notes at the end of the book, it is clear to the reader that she worked tirelessly to make the book as historically accurate as a fiction novel can be. I have never read a historical fiction novel in this era or setting, and after reading the author’s notes, the reason for this became clear: very few historical documents from Rhodes still exist from this period. The story progresses slowly at first; however, though many years pass, once the family reaches Rhodes, it’s hard to believe that everything that comes to pass happens in a single year. The momentum builds until Island of Gold’s conclusion, and while there are still elements of the story that remain to be told in later installments, the book does not end on a cliffhanger. Once the pacing of the novel picked up, I struggled to tear my eyes from the pages. I am eager for the release of the next book in the series to learn how this family moves forward from everything that happened.