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Witch Trials in 16th-Century Scotland: an Editorial Review of "The King's Inquisitor"

Author Bio:

Tonya Ulynn Brown was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio but now calls southeastern Ohio home. She spent her younger years right out of college living in Europe and teaching English as a second language. She attributes her time in Eastern Europe as being one of great personal growth, where her love for history, the classics, and all things European was born. Tonya holds a Master’s degree in Teaching and is an elementary school teacher where she uses her love of history and reading to try to inspire younger generations. Along with all the historical characters that she entertains in her head, she lives with her husband, two sons and a very naughty Springer Spaniel.

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Editorial Review:

The King's Inquisitor by Tonya Ulynn Brown

Book Two of the Stuart Monarch series.

The King's Inquisitor by Tonya Ulynn Brown is the second installment in the Stuart Monarch Series.

1590 Scotland

Witch-hunt panic is on the rise, and King James VI is determined to bring those that might have anything witchcraft to trial. When a dangerous storm arose in the North Sea, causing Anne of Denmark, his soon-to-be bride, to turn back. James was impatient for Anne to arrive in Scotland, so he took it upon himself to retrieve her. On their return voyage, they were beset by violent storms. King James was convinced that these ungodly, vicious storms were caused by the works of dark arts. James appointed a committee of witch hunters who Sought out those who posed un-Godly threats to his throne.

William Broune, whose widowed father is the Almoner of St Andrews Parish, and childhood friend of King James VI, and his principal job is an advocate. William, along with other key men attend the King during an inquisition in North Berwick. Broune finds himself caught up in his sovereign’s religious zeal to eliminate those that practice the dark arts. King James designates William as the King’s Inquisitor, and he is unable to refuse this appointment. If he is successful in bringing down this unnatural threat against god-fearing Christians, he will be rightfully awarded for his service to his monarch.

The dashing king's man, William Broune, second-guesses the authenticity of the claims brought against several people who are accused of witchcraft. Pushed

to do what he is tasked with, he goes about questioning the accused, along with the legitimacy of their crimes. William tries to be fair to those that are accused. His reluctance to be involved in the witch hunts is noted since it goes against his conscience.

Alisa Blackburn is a fiery young woman who has a tender heart for those less fortunate. While her only brother is away in London, she shoulders the burden of keeping her mother's, and her own head, above water. Alisa diligently cares for her declining mother in the best way she can. Witch-Hunt hysteria is on the rise sparked by the King's frenzy. Alisa questions those who are accusing her townsfolk of witchcraft and wants nothing to do with them. Her run-in with the vile unscrupulous Bailiff Seton causes her heightened anxiety. Seton secures a betrothal from Alisa’s uncle and is convinced that she has no say in being his wife. So when the handsome king’s man, William becomes interested in her she wants nothing to do with him, or so she thinks.

The diabolical, Deputy Bailiff David Seton made it his personal duty to bring anyone he deemed suspicious into accountability. Seton sees himself as untouchable when he is appointed apprentice to one of the King’s men. Using his elevated position for ulterior motives, he casts blame on those he declares involved with witchcraft. His one goal is to acquire Alisa as his wife and add to his coffers.

Tonya Ulynn Brown excels in bringing sixteen-century Scotland vividly to life, during one of its turbulent times. Emotionally charged, and fast-paced, this gripping tale captures the witch-hysteria that held Scotland in terror. King, James VI took a personal interest in bringing those accused of witchcraft to trial. Masses of innocents were tortured and burned, and thousands lost their lives as the Scottish witch inquisition moved from town to town.

Brown’s book gives an intimate look into two fictional characters' lives who were in the grip of this madness. Told in dual narration, between William Broune and Alisa Blackburn, the reader is catapulted into the sixteenth century during this historical event. The flow between both POVs is seamless and easy to follow.

Brown’s meticulous research shines through, with authentic descriptive details, along with an absorbing storyline. The novel’s fictional characters are interwoven with noted real historical characters of Geillis Duncan, and Agnes Sampson, just to name a few. This adds a layer of depth to the novel, making it more meaningful. The author has a way of connecting you to her characters, which allows you to be completely invested in their lives. I especially enjoyed Williams's character as it developed. He starts to follow his moral compass, his heart, and conscience, which meant William must go against his King and forgo prestige and a noble wife. The romance never felt rushed and complimented the plot line.

The King's Inquisitor is a propulsive storyline, offering both drama, and historical authenticity that will appeal to anyone interested well written historical fiction.

I enjoyed every minute of this book, and I thought The King's Inquisitor by Tonya Ulynn Brown, made for an enjoyable page.


“Ever the champion of the oppressed, William, “ Blantyre laughed. In that you remind of your father. But only in that. “

“Her hair was not as dark as it had appeared the night before, but even the lack of sunlight could not dim the copper flecks in her chestnut locks. Her hair was tucked in a linen caul that hung to the nape of her neck. But the tiny, loose wisps around her face rebelled, being drawn innocently towards those alluring, amber eyes. “


“The King's Inquisitor” by Tonya Ulynn Brown receives 4.75 stars from The Historical Fiction Company


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