BOOK REVIEW/BLOG TOUR: Blood and Ink by D.K. Marley

Publication Date: March 28, 2018
The White Rabbit Publishing
ebook, Paperback, and Audible; 438 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction


In the tradition of "The Marlowe Papers" by Ros Barber, the debut historical fiction novel "Blood and Ink" tells the story of Christopher "Kit" Marlowe, the dark and brooding playwright of Queen Elizabeth's court. Marlowe sells his soul to gain the one thing he desires: to see his name immortalized.

Inspired at an early age on the banks of the Stour

River, his passion for a goose quill and ink thrusts him into the labyrinth of England's underworld - a secret spy ring created by the Queen's spymaster, Sir Frances Walsingham.

Kit suffers the whips and scorns of time as he witnesses the massacre of Paris, the hypocrisy of the church, the rejection from his 'dark lady,' the theft of his identity as a playwright, and wrenching loss breathing life into many of his unforgettable characters.

As he sinks further into the clutches of Walsingham, a masque is written by his own hand to save his life from shadowing betrayers, from the Queen's own Star Chamber, and from the Jesuit assassins of Rome, thus sending him into exile and allowing an unknown actor from Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare, to step into his shoes.

And so begins the lie; and yet, what will a man not do to regain his name?

"DK Marley’s exhaustively researched and spryly written novel Blood and Ink follows in the tradition of such minor-key classics as Anthony Burgess’ A Dead Man in Deptford, and the central premise of Marley’s book—that Marlowe only faked his death in 1593 in order to escape the attentions of the Privy Council—will be familiar to followers of the Shakespearean authorship question (Shakespeare, needless to say, features prominently here). Marley has sifted through a phenomenal amount of research, but along the way she hasn’t forgotten to tell a first-rate and gripping story, adorned in many places by some very pretty turns of phrase. We may never have a final resolution to the tangled questions Marley raises, but as long as we get such strong and enjoyable novels as this one out of the tangle, we shouldn’t complain." -Historical Novel Society

My Thoughts

I’m more familiar with the works of William Shakespeare than I am with those of Christopher Marlowe. However, I’m aware of the debate that still rages over whether Marlowe was the true author of Shakespeare’s plays. This may never be resolved but D.K. Marley in her novel, Blood and Ink, presents a very plausible account of Marlowe’s life (and death) and how this could be possible.

Blood and Ink is the story of Christopher Marlowe's rise to fame, from his supposed recruitment into Sir Francis Walsingham’s ring of boy spies to his early death at the age of twenty-nine in Deptford. Mystery surrounds Marlowe’s death and Marley makes good use of the anomalies in official records to present, as I mentioned before, a very plausible account to support her views.

Marlowe's and Shakespeare's paths were sure to cross given that one was a playwright and the other was an actor. Both aspired to greatness though to achieve it they followed very different routes. Marley reveals other similarities between the two, which forever bind them together in this tale that ends in deception and tragedy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It was well written and engaging, drawing me into the murky world of Elizabethan politics and the manipulaton of Marlowe through his ambition to be Elizabeth I's court playwright. For both Marlowe and Shakespeare, fame was a double-edged sword that left them questioning whether the price of fame was too great. I hadn't expected the sadness the ending evoked, but it satisfactorily concluded a thought provoking read; one that I highly recommend.

Blood and Ink is available from:
Amazon (eBook) | Amazon (Paperback)

About the Author

D. K. Marley is a historical fiction writer specializing in Shakespearean themes. Her grandmother, an English Literature teacher, gave her a volume of Shakespeare's plays when she was eleven, inspiring DK to delve further into the rich Elizabethan language. Eleven years ago she began the research leading to the publication of her first novel "Blood and Ink," an epic tale of lost dreams, spurned love, jealousy and deception in Tudor England as the two men, William Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, fight for one name and the famous works now known as the Shakespeare Folio.She is an avid Shakespearean / Marlowan, a member of the Marlowe Society, the Shakespeare Fellowship and a signer of the Declaration of Intent for the Shakespeare Authorship Debate. She has traveled to England three times for intensive research and debate workshops, and is a graduate of the intense training workshop "The Writer's Retreat Workshop" founded by Gary Provost and hosted by Jason Sitzes.She lives in Georgia with her husband and a Scottish Terriers named Maggie and Buster.

For more information, please visit D.K. Marley's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 16 Interview at Passages to the Past | Tuesday, July 17 Review at Oh, October | Wednesday, July 18 Review at Pursuing Stacie | Thursday, July 19 Review at Bri's Book Nook | Friday, July 20 Review at A Darn Good Read, Review at Donna's Book Blog | Monday, July 23 Review at 100 Pages a Day | Tuesday, July 24 Interview at What Cathy Read Next | Wednesday, July 25 Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit


During the Blog Tour two signed copies of Blood and Ink will be given away. To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 25th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Blood and Ink


  1. Oh but this sounds FABULOUS! By the way, you might also like "Tamburlaine Must Die" by Louise Welsh which also has to do with the Christopher Marlow/Shakespeare connection!

    1. It was very good, Davida. Thanks for the recommendation. I've reserved Louise Welsh's book at the library and hope to read it soon.