Longlisted, 2018 International DUBLIN Literary Award
Long-shortlisted, 2017 ReLit Awards
"Complex, lyrical, and with a profound sense of a world long passed and humanity’s eternal motivations." — Quill & Quire
"In Butler Hallett’s hands, Kit comes off as a fascinating and contradictory figure, part martyred freethinker and part unscrupulous opportunist." — Winnipeg Review
"Perfectly paced and gracefully wrought." — Toronto Star
1593. Queen Elizabeth still reigns but grows old. 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 ("Kit" to his friends), a cobbler’s son from Canterbury who has defied expectations and become an accomplished poet and playwright.
As the novel opens, Kit Marlowe, fresh from betraying the target of his espionage, is himself betrayed. Fighting to stay one step ahead in a dizzying game that threatens the lives of those he holds most dear, including his beloved Tom Kyd, he comes to question his allegiances and nearly everything he once believed.
In this psychological thriller, Michelle Butler Hallett fleshes out the historical record with insight and the rigor of authenticity. Her 16th-century England, surprising and fresh, offers historical figures both famous and obscure, casual descriptions of quotidian life, and vivid representations of cruelty and violence that reverberate with echoes of our own time.
But it’s Kit, the fascinating Marlowe, an endless source of brilliance, passion and defiance, that brings the novel to life. Writes playwright Robert Chafe, "History’s Marlowe becomes [Butler Hallet’s] own, offering us his wit and wisdom and seemingly new lessons about faith, ambition, loyalty, and yes, love."
"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."
"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."
"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."