Reviewed by Jessi Buchmann

Imagine embroidery so intricately sewn it looks like a painting and mesmerizes its audience. Britain’s Bayeux Tapestry, a source of mystery, controversy and speculation is the focal point of The Needle in the Blood by Sarah Bower. It depicts the Battle of Hastings: William of Normandy’a conquests through England and the fall of Harold II, the King of England. Little is known about the tapestry or its origins but Bower takes a stab and successfully fills our minds with a plausible past.

Bishop of Bayeux and Earl of Kent Odo has commissioned the tapestry to display the tale of his brother’s –William, Duke of Normandy–overtaking of Britain to all who view it. He uses his nun sister Agatha as the tapestry guide to unfold a future that leads him to Gytha. Gytha, a lady-in-waiting to the fallen Lady Edith Swanneck, takes a turn from harlot to heroine in The Needle in the Blood. She guides us through her perspective of war – the murder of the Saxon King Harold and the tumultuous relationship that develops between herself and Bishop Odo despite the fact they are destined to be enemies. Their relationship evolves from one of fury to one of ambition, growth and love.

This historical novel is well-written; the details and events depicted are believable and fascinating. The Needle in the Blood is less about William the Conqueror and more about the forbidden love story that unfolds between Gytha and Bishop Odo and how perhaps the Bayeux Tapestry came to be. The facts in the book are well researched. The characters are well developed and you can feel their passion and longing as you flow through the tapestry of their lives. While not destined to be a classic, The Needle in the Blood deserves a read.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Check out Sarah Bower’s guest post to learn more about The Needle in the Blood

Jessi Buchmann lives in Beaverton, Oregon and works as a Project Manager. When she is not reading she can be found: writing, painting or wreaking havoc on her house doing home repairs.

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