Audiobook Review: Rizzio by Denise Mina

by Denise Mina

Publication date: 2021
Publisher: Tantor


From the multi-award-winning master of crime, Denise Mina delivers a radical new take on one of the darkest episodes in Scottish history—the bloody assassination of David Rizzo  private secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots, in the queen’s chambers in Holyrood Palace.

On the evening of March 9th, 1566, David Rizzio, the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots, was brutally murdered. Dragged from the chamber of the heavily pregnant Mary, Rizzio was stabbed fifty six times by a party of assassins. This breathtakingly tense novella dramatises the events that led up to that night, telling the infamous story as it has never been told before.

A dark tale of sex, secrets and lies, Rizzio looks at a shocking historical murder through a modern lens—and explores the lengths that men and women will go to in their search for love and power. 

Rizzio is nothing less than a provocative and thrilling new literary masterpiece.

Source: Goodreads


I’m trying to get my reading mojo back and figured reading a few short books would help me get back into the flow of things. I will honestly admit that the length of this audiobook was the primary reason I picked it up! At just over 2 hours, I figured that even if I had no idea what it would be about, there was no harm in giving it a go!

“Rizzio” is a novella by Denise Mina, telling the story of the brutal murder of a man called David Rizzio in 1566. David Rizzio was a real man, the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots, and he was murdered, but, as the details are unknown, this tale is fictional.

I went into this book blind and honestly, I think that was my mistake as I would have benefitted from having a rough understanding of the plot before diving in! Because of this, I found that it took me a while to find my feet and understand what was happening, and because it’s such a short read, that did spoil some of the enjoyment for me. Once I had some context and had immersed myself in Holyrood Palace, however, I really enjoyed this book and was gripped until the end. I particularly liked that this book happened in real time, meaning that tension was high as you uncovered the terrifying events of the evening at the same time as the characters.

I’d definitely recommend this and am glad to have chosen it. As with most historical fiction, I feel like I’ve passively learned something and for that I am grateful. The story is gripping and it’s told so vividly that I’m keen to explore the other work of this author soon.

Overall rating: “Rizzio” is a fast paced, gripping novella about a brutal murder during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots. It’s really interesting to throw yourself back in time and think of the events of 1566. I went in clueless and didn’t know what to expect, but it was a great 4 stars read for me!

Click the pictures below to view this book in various formats on Amazon

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Paperback: Audiobook: Hardcover: Kindle:

Thanks for reading! What did you think of this book? Or if you haven’t read it, would you like to? Drop me a comment and say hello!

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