Reviewed by Claudia Robinson

“The paper fan, meanwhile, that she holds in her hand together with the complex code of signals that has grown up around the object over the years, becomes an expression of unending subtly and sophistication in her hands: to open invitingly as her eyes meet his across the room; to draw it shut a moment later as she is distracted elsewhere; to raise it to her right cheek to express interest in a conversation nearby; or to beat it waspishly against her palm when irritated by another.” Amos, describing Daphne, in The Arrow Chest

Robert Parry is a word smith. His ability to extract his own perceptions of the past and present them in a novel in fantastical manner, one that disallows his readers anything BUT their total and complete submersion in to his tales, is ingenious. Dark humor, bizarre circumstances and festering desires fuse together seamlessly in his latest book, The Arrow Chest, creating yet another sumptuous and slightly demonic, story.

Young, virile, handsome, if not slightly off kilter, Amos Roselli is a painter with a very special and beautiful muse, his childhood friend, and love of his life Daphne, now married to Oliver Ramsey. Set in Victorian England, this haunting (literal and figurative) story, weaves the lives of King Henry VIII and the infamous Anne Boleyn with those of star crossed lovers, Daphne and Amos. From the moment Amos is called upon to sketch the remains (minus head) thought to belong to Anne Boleyn, strange things begin to happen.

Commissioned to paint a portrait of the beastly and corpulent Ramsey, Amos and Daphne are thrown together once again, rekindling old feelings and setting a course, that for all, is sure to end in tragedy. Trapped in a loveless marriage, Daphne cleaves to Amos, embroiling him in what she considers a plot against her, should she not conceive an heir soon. When Daphne reveals her passion for seances, and the ability to contact the dead, things begin to get dark, leaving Amos to believe he might even be losing his mind.

Parry displays, yet again, an uncanny ability to bring fact and fiction together in a flawless fashion that is, for me, Robert’s trademark. He leaves his readers contemplating the accuracy of his stories as well as those they have read before, and ultimately having to choose the ‘reality’ of their preference. More often than not, Parry’s adaptation, will win.

Anyone enamored with Tudor history, Gothic England, or times begone, laden with dazzling debauchery, will fall in love with The Arrow Chest. My only critique? The cover. Such a decadent novel is deserving of a cover far more beautiful, much more opulent. In a store, I would have passed over the book, the cover rendering too immature for the content within. I’d love to see it rebound in something magical. Bottom line though? READ IT!

Rating: 4.5/5

Read Robert Parry’s guest post about The Arrow Chest and check out Claudia’s review of his last novel, Virgin and the Crab

Claudia lives on Cape Cod with her husband and two children. She entertains her passion for reading in between being a full-time Mom, aspiring writer, avid photographer & co-leader of the Cape Cod Community Angels, a non-profit organization for young girls involved in volunteering in their Community.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Robert Parry. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.