Friday, March 20, 2020

Sophia Rose Reviews: The Novice's Tale by Margaret Frazer, narrated by Susan Duerden

Today I'm happy to turn the blog over to Sophia Rose who's got an audio historical mystery to share with us.

The Novice’s Tale by Margaret Frazer, narrated by Susan Duerden
#1 Dame Frevise Mystery
Historical Mystery
Publisher:  Tantor Audio
Published:  1.28.20
Time:  7 hours 28 minutes
Rating: 4
Narrator Rating: 4
Source:  Tantor Audio
Sellers:  Amazon /Audible /Barnes & Noble /Kobo

ADD TO: GoodReads  

GoodReads Blurb:
The arrival of lusty, blaspheming dowager Lady Ermentrude at St. Frideswide convent in 1431 causes quite a stir, but before the obnoxious woman can get what she came for--her niece, the novice Thomasine--she is murdered.

Sophia Rose's review:

Medieval history comes alive in this lush setting of a catholic nunnery where treachery and murder occur forcing the nuns of St. Frideswide’s led by the sharp, clever Dame Frevisse to find the answers before one of their own is taken as the convenient scape goat for the crime.

The Novice's Tale introduces series protagonist, Dame Frevisse, who grew up in a wealthy, powerful man's household and he helped hone her strong mind and spirit which does not suffer fools easily.  Domina Edith recruits Frevisse to find the answers to the poisoning death of a highborn guest of the nunnery.  I liked Frevisse from the get-go with her no nonsense, skeptical, and not lacking in humor manners.  She's well educated, but also full of common sense and a stiff backbone even when standing against powerful men who try to push her around.

The murder victim was unlikable, but still not a likely candidate for being bumped off.  I figured out who did it easily enough, but the motive wasn't completely evident to me until the reveal.  I enjoyed being introduced to life in fifteenth century England and specifically the nunnery where the story took place.  The characters of the sisters were engaging and well drawn as were the various guests and servants.  I had no trouble picturing it all in my mind's eye from the seeming accurate descriptions of daily life to the dialogue, and to the customs including how investigations were handled.

Susan Duerden is a narrator I have enjoyed in past books and she was fabulous in voicing Frevisse and all the nuns giving them separate characters.  Her male voices were good, but I preferred the female voices.  She did great at the old terms and medieval dialogue.  She paced well and caught the right tone for this mostly contemplative, steady whodunnit.

This was a solid start to this historical mystery series and I can't wait for more Dame Frevisse and her fellow nuns solving murders in medieval England.  Those who enjoy the historical mystery genre and look for authentic flavored backdrop, strong characters and deep story development should give this one a try.

My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.

Author Bio:
Margaret Frazer is a pen name used at first by Mary Monica Pulver Kuhfeld and Gail Lynn Frazer writing in tandem for a series of historical medieval mysteries featuring Dame Frevisse. After the sixth novel, the works are written by Gail Frazer alone, and the name has subsequently been used exclusively by her. A second series of novels by Ms Frazer set in the same time and place feature the player/minstrel Joliffe.

Sophia’s Bio:
Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.
Sophia’s Social Media Links:


  1. Wow Sophia Rose Dame Frevisse sounds amazing, I'm looking into this one right now. Thanks!

    1. These are great. I could see myself binging the series on audio. :)

  2. I don't think I've read a book with a nunnery in it. Sounds like you enjoyed it though.

    1. Yeah, it was really fascinating to see how life in a cloister is like.

  3. This sounds good, and before I clicked read more I thought, ya know Sophia Rose would like this. wrote the review!🤣

    1. Haha! I'm such a historical mystery fan. Thanks for thinking of me, Kimberly. :)

  4. Oh... I've never read/listened to a medieval-period mystery. I will have to take a look at this. From Tantor, eh? Maybe I'll jump in when the second book is released. Thoughts?

    1. I think they are pretty good. I've read the print versions of the whole series, but its been years. Love the narrator. LOL, I accidentally missed the offering for book two, but I did get book three so I'll let you know for that one. :)

  5. Ha, I do admit nice concept, though there is that monk solving crimes guy too

    1. Yes, love Cadfael, too. This is just as good to me. :)

  6. As you know, I can't listen because I'll surely fall asleep, but I like this type of story. Sending hugs to you both! RO

    1. Oh yes, I remember. They are pretty good in print, too. That's how I got to them years ago. :)