Longlisted, 2018 International DUBLIN Literary Award
Long-shortlisted, 2017 ReLit Awards
1593. Queen Elizabeth reigns from the throne while two rival spymasters — Sir Robert Cecil and the Earl of Essex — plot from the shadows. Their goal? To control succession upon the aged queen's death. The man on which their schemes depend? Christopher Marlowe, a cobbler's son from Canterbury who has defied expectations and become an accomplished poet and playwright. Now that the plague has closed theatres, Marlowe must resume the work for which he was originally recruited: intelligence and espionage.
Fighting to stay one step ahead in a dizzying game that threatens the lives of those he holds most dear, Marlowe comes to question his allegiances and nearly everything he once believed. As tensions mount, he is tossed into an impossible bind. He must choose between paths that lead either to wretched guilt and miserable death or to love and honour.
An historical novel with a contemporary edge, This Marlowe measures the weight of the body politic, the torment of the flesh, and the state of the soul.
"Complex, lyrical, and with a profound sense of a world long passed and humanity's eternal motivations, This Marlowe holds up extremely well next to the most lauded recent historical fiction."
"There's the real rigour of authenticity here, the tone and nuance of a time and place skilfully conjured. Butler Hallett's great gift to us, though, is her ability to chart these waters in ways that are still surprising and fresh. History's Marlowe becomes her own, offering us his wit and wisdom and seemingly new lessons about faith, ambition, loyalty, and yes, love."
"Perfectly paced and gracefully wrought, This Marlowe is superior historical fare."
"Butler Hallett builds upon a strong, believable foundation, giving the reader a vibrant sense of the times."
"This daring genre hybrid explores the dark realities of Elizabethan England, while throwing some refracted light onto our own turbulent time."
"Michelle Butler Hallett angles a glass onto a four-centuries-old tragedy and haunts us with our own reflection. This Marlowe is lyrical, audacious, and achingly human: a psychological thriller and a meditation upon power, faith, loyalty, and betrayal — and the capacity of love to ruin and redeem. I loved it."