The Last Daughter, by Nicola Cornick

Ella Beales

The Last Daughter is the latest story from the bestselling historical novelist.
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Nicola Cornick effortlessly blends historical fiction with mystery-writing in her latest dual-time novel, The Last Daughter. An international bestselling author renowned for her time-slip mysteries, Cornick interweaves the 15th century with the present day to create a historical fiction full of mystery, romance and the supernatural. As the popularity of time-slip novels grows, Cornick has risen to become one of its most successful writers, with an unparalleled ability to transport the reader between eras.

The Last Daughter follows the entwined stories of two strong female protagonists: Anne Lovell and Serena Warren. Seemingly only connected by their shared affiliation with Minster Lovell Hall in Oxfordshire, it soon becomes clear that their entanglement runs far deeper, as they are bound by the mystical Lovell Lodestar. Cornick expertly uses her local knowledge of Oxfordshire to create a rich tapestry of buildings, landscapes and local history: in expanding upon, and bringing to life, existing myths and legends associated with the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall, Cornick thus brings the pages to life too.

Cornick successfully creates two worlds: that of Anne Lovell in the 15th century, wife of Francis Lovell – ally to King Richard III during the War of the Roses – and that of Serena Warren in the present day, who returns to Minster Lovell after the discovery of her twin sister’s body, and who longs to recall her memory of the night she disappeared eleven years prior.  Taking inspiration from the War of the Roses, and one of the UK’s greatest historical mysteries- the death of the Princes in the Tower –  Cornick imagines a history in which their fates are revealed.

The present day sees Serena returning to Minster Lovell in the hope of overcoming her dissociative amnesia surrounding the night of her twin sister’s disappearance. Serena recalls a time when her family lived in Minster Lovell Hall, whilst her return to Oxfordshire sees the site as it is in the reader’s present day: a Heritage Museum open to the public. Cornick cleverly blends her love of genealogy and local history with crime-mystery, psychometry and folklore, to create a present-day England that exists in both reality and fantasy.

Meanwhile, in 15th century Yorkshire, the reader follows Anne’s journey from the age of 5, as she is married off to Francis Lovell. Following a strong-willed female protagonist as she attempts to navigate the male-dominated political sphere that her husband and father inhabit, Cornick brings to life 15th century issues of family loyalty, power, politics and war. As Anne moves between Yorkshire and Oxfordshire, and lives through the political turmoil of the period, she becomes connected to a 13th century legend that will have ramifications that stretch over time and space, and change the course of history as we know it.

The Last Daughter is a spellbinding mystery that has you gripped from the start. Cornick’s captivating story-telling, combined with her extensive knowledge and world-building, creates an intricate plot that allows two eras to seamlessly weave together to form a must-read historical fiction.