Read Harlequin's Riddle by Rachel Nightingale Online


The Gazini Players are proud to presentFor your Edification and EnjoymentTales of great Joy, and of great WoeTen years ago, Mina’s beloved older brother disappeared with a troupe of travelling players, and was never heard from again.On the eve of Mina’s own departure with a troupe, her father tells her she has a special gift for story telling, a gift he silenced years befoThe Gazini Players are proud to presentFor your Edification and EnjoymentTales of great Joy, and of great WoeTen years ago, Mina’s beloved older brother disappeared with a troupe of travelling players, and was never heard from again.On the eve of Mina’s own departure with a troupe, her father tells her she has a special gift for story telling, a gift he silenced years before in fear of her ability to call visions into being with her stories.Mina soon discovers that the travelling players draw their powers from a mysterious place called Tarya, where dreams are transformed into reality. While trying to solve the mystery of her brother’s disappearance, she discovers a dark secret to the players’ onstage antics. Torn between finding her brother or exposing the truth about the players, could her gifts as a story teller offer a way to solve Harlequin’s riddle?...

Title : Harlequin's Riddle
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781922200990
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 308 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Harlequin's Riddle Reviews

  • Charlotte Annelise
    2019-03-30 18:11

    A really well-written and captivating fantasy novel.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-03-24 15:34

    The stories I like best are those that whisk me away effortlessly from everyday life and this historical fantasy did just that. The gorgeous cover of Harlequin’s Riddle kept calling me to explore the rich world created within and I wasn’t disappointed. The playbill at the start reveals what we may expect from the pages within, and also announces Mina, the protagonist of the story.A rich, entertaining story follows, told with great flourish, just as the playbill promises. I bonded early on with the main character, seventeen-year-old Mina who has been endowed with a special gift. Because of her unusual talents, she is offered a position in a troupe fashioned after the Commedia Dell’Arte, an improvised style of theatre featuring stock characters. Mina is on the cusp of adulthood and exploring the new, including a growing attraction to Dario. She is also on a mission to find out what happened to her long missing brother, whose disappearance may be connected with the players and perhaps the secrets of Tarya. Harlequin’s Riddle glides between the real and surreal with ease, rather like the Gazini Players’ caravan which seamlessly transforms each night into the stage. The story was like a rich puzzle box, slowly unveiling its secrets and twists at a satisfying pace. This debut novel hooked me in from the first chapter with an alchemical weave of words that didn’t lift their magic once.

  • Katie Dawson
    2019-03-26 16:25

    Harlequin's Riddle instantly transports the reader to Mina's world of magical creativity from the first page. Casual readers will be relieved to find that no great feat of concentration is necessary to get through the first chapter - this is the kind of novel one sinks into completely, rendering the mundane world all but forgotten as the words flow from the page.The story moves along at a comfortable pace. Every last word has been carefully chosen by Nightingale to conjure a detailed, colourful picture of a world rich in personality and culture, without holding the story down with verbose descriptions. A satisfying segment of the Tales of Tarya, and I can't wait to find out what happens in Book 2!

  • Hazel Edwards
    2019-04-06 19:26

    'Harlequin's Riddle' has an involving charm based on a homage to storytelling and performers through the ages. It is also keenly observed with well created settings. Lots of historic research behind the story of the travelling players. It's rather like an involving painting of a period in which you can lose yourself as you discover more details. I'd recommend it for those who enjoy magic realism and period fantasy. It's the type of novel which will have passionate followers for the proposed trilogy.

  • Wendy Dunn
    2019-04-13 15:06

    A wonderfully engaging and deftly told tale, Harlequin’s Riddle is at its heart a story about the power and magic of creativity. The story opens with seventeen-year-old Mina wanting to leave her family and birthplace – Andon, an isolated seaside town in this well realised fantasy world. It is not only because she is on the brink of adulthood and “bored with the steady, unchanging routine of her days, longing for colour and change”, but because she also hopes to solve a mystery. When Mina was a child of seven, Paolo, her beloved brother, joined a troupe of travelling players and vanished from her life. Now another troupe players comes to her village, and their leader invites Mina to join them. The troupe’s arrival awakes in Mina painful memories of her childhood – memories confirmed by her father when he confesses he stopped her telling stories as a child. He stopped her, with violence, because of his fear of her power; through the very act of her storytelling, Mina brings to life her stories. Drawn to the players because of their colour, their mystery, their promise of excitement, and also hoping she might find out what happened to her brother by travelling with them, Mina packs her bag to begin her adventure of discovery. Mystery is one of the driving forces of this novel. With Mina, the reader attempts to unravel the mystery of her brother’s disappearance alongside the sinister mystery of the players themselves. Mina learns from the travelling players that her storytelling gift comes from Tarya, a realm of mystery; a realm where dreams become true. By the time the reader reaches the final page, Mina has truly seized her power as a storyteller. It is a power that – despite painful betrayals by those she gave her trust and love - allows her to pursue the mystery of her brother’s fate, and her own destiny. Clearly written with a lot of passion, this is an impressive debut novel from a gifted storyteller. Nightingale weaves into the fabric of her novel an almost philosophical pondering about the power of creativity in all its forms. I’m now eagerly waiting for book two.

  • Cel Jel
    2019-03-29 21:15

    When you finish a book and want to find out what happens to the lead character on the next leg of the journey, you know it has got you in.Do you like theatre, have you heard of Commedia Del'Arte? Well then the way this troupe of players leave their audiences spell bound will have you questioning the skills of the actors you have seen.A quest to find her brother takes Mina away from her sheltered life in a small remote village of the country, to learn more of life and to see larger towns and cities. He left some years before, and has not returned as promised.Along the way she comes to learn that the players are not always welcome, that some want to hurt them, but why? I look forward to the next book,the sad side to coming to a series of books early in the piece is that you have to wait for the next book to be published.

  • Elizabeth Corbett
    2019-04-06 20:25

    A delightful, captivating and highly original historical fantasy novel. The evocation of renaissance players give the setting and descriptions of this novel a strong sense of authenticity. The heroine Mina is innocent, gifted, and likable, her journey believable, her decision at the end heart wrenching. I can't wait for the next installment.

  • Jamie
    2019-04-10 19:18

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as it blends the theatre of the commedia dell'arte, the magical wonder of new world, and glorious writing that carries through into this new place. Set in a place similar to renaissance Italy, the story follows a young woman from a small coastal town to the royal palace on her journey in to the secrets of Tarya.

  • Garvie D. Soren
    2019-03-27 17:24

    This novel feels like it should be spoken about on two levels.Firstly, on the surface it tells the story of a young girl searching for her missing brother while travelling with a group of lovable rag-tag performers, and everything is not as it seems (of course). On this level, I could talk about the effective individualism of each character, the strength and solidness of Mina's character. I could talk about the believability and the complex design of the world, the historical backdrop and the wonder of its fantastical and fantastic counterpart. I could talk about how the plot weaves in and out of suspense and excitement and wonder at a pace so well done and engaging that I only wish I had the ability to read faster. I could also talk about how all of these worked and weaved together in such a beautiful and comepelling way that I really have no other way to describe it without spoiling every detail.On another level I could talk about how the layers underneath the narrative are just as engaging and thought provoking. In this novel the idea of stories being magic moves from a symbolic idea to a literal one, and in it captures everything that is to love about stories. They are compelling. They are wonderous. They are impossible. They are dangerous. They have layers we can never fully understand but we will always be searching for the answers. They are what readers love about stories, and it is the very thing I love about this book.

  • Carolyn Denman
    2019-04-19 21:21

    I wasn’t entirely certain what to expect when I opened this book. Which is exactly how I like my books to be. If a book has a pretty premise, a pretty cover (and wow, what a cover!) the promise of a new world to explore, and a hint of magic, then I’m willing to give it a go. Harlequin did not disappoint.Young Mina has a talent for creating stories, and is clearly destined for more excitement than her small village has to offer. When she joins the travelling Players, she learns that there is a magical foundation to her creativity. But is it really magic or just illusion? And why do some of the townsfolk they encounter revile their kind? Perhaps they are simply ignorant and distrustful – or perhaps they know more than Mina does about her new adopted family.This story is so rich in flavour and colour that it should be served in one of those fancy glasses and sprinkled with glitter.“Yet the whole rainbow was tiny, no more than a thumbnail in length. She reached out to it with star-shadowed hands, and connected.”Yet not everything is Happy Rainbow Ponies. There is drama and danger enough to satisfy the most hardened YA reader, and Harlequin’s Riddle draws you in just as deftly as the Harlequin himself.Do yourself a favour. Go light the Coonara, Spotify some lute or harp music (I’m sure there’s some on there if you look hard enough), pour yourself a mulled goldberry wine, and run away with the travelling folk – just for a little while. You won’t regret it.

  • Cielinadress
    2019-04-08 17:08

    "This is best book I've ever read." - Me"Better than Harry Potter." - Also meThere are stories that change you. When you're so drawn into the experience that every word on every page might as well be playing out before your very eyes. You finish it, and reality returns, but you are never quite the same again. You became a part of this story, and it became a part of you. Harlequin's Riddle is about a girl who learns the power of a story, and we learn it with her. This one is a story that will never leave you.

  • Isobel Blackthorn
    2019-04-05 18:24

    It is a stark fact that for the last few decades the major players in the book publishing industry have chosen to be led by their sales teams, and commissioning editors must bow to their publisher’s bottom line. Editors may fall in love with a story, want to praise it from the rooftops, but they are stuck with having to tell the author the harsh truth that their sales department, not known for vision and decidedly risk averse, have deemed the work unsaleable. It happens time and again that a truly great work slips through the cracks and ends up – because it IS truly a great work – being picked up by one of the lesser known small presses. If you want to read excellent original fiction, hunt out works released by reputable small presses.Harlequin’s Riddle is one of those books, for Rachel Nightingale has composed a work of remarkable vision and depth of insight, a work narrated in an accessible and enchanting style; gentle, inviting, sensory, like silk and gossamer. The pace is slow at first, but never meandering, and quickens at each plot point, as what begins as a quest evolves into a dark mystery. Harlequin’s Riddle is a story of illusion and make believe in art and theatre. The novel opens with Mina watching a travelling theatre troupe perform in her village as she misses her older brother, Paolo, who took off with a troupe a decade before, and never returned. She was seven when he left, and she’s seventeen when with her mother’s blessing she joins the theatre troupe in the hope of finding him. The reader is swept along on the aspirations, hopes and dreams of innocence, a false innocence for Mina’s childhood scars are many, and the grief and anguish and betrayal are buried so deep Mina is numb to them, until they surface and form a destabilising force, propelling her into understanding and ultimately wholeness.Despite the fictitious setting, Nightingale paints an evocative portrait of medieval Italy with its rugged coastline, its quaint villages, forests and northern lakes. The author’s depiction of the theatre troupe with their colourful sets and costumes is vibrant and alive and enthralling, the reader provided a privileged view, looking over Mina’s shoulder at the other players and the audience. Much of the story involves the travellers journeying in their wagons to the Festival of Lights held in the large city of Aurea, and again, the reader is swept along for the ride as the troupe cope with various dramas and adventures along the way. There is much here to entertain every reader, young and old, the final quarter of the novel dripping with visual splendour.On another level, Harlequin’s Riddle is less a tale of Mina’s quest to find her brother, and more a study of the nature of imagination and creativity, that curious moment of conjuring, bringing into being that which we inwardly see, and seeing that which we inwardly describe – words and pictures, which comes first? The creative process, at the moment of conception, differs between the arts and among artists, but always there is a point of manifestation and it is this that fills the pages of Harlequin’s Riddle.Coupled with the theme of creativity and the creative process are ideas of spirituality and healing, the very quality we access when we transcend ordinary reality in creative imaginative acts, is also a powerful source of beneficial transformation and healing. Nightingale calls this multidimensional realm Tarya. It is what esotericists call the ‘inner planes’, and it is here that the deeper essence of Harlequin’s Riddle is apparent. Entering Tarya involves altering your state of awareness, undergoing an out of body experience, and engaging in astral travel. Tarya is the realm of the shaman, the magus, the trickster, the psychopomp. Here is a small taste of Tarya.“A subtle buzzing of hidden energy surrounded her. She looked down on distant mountains, and nearby trees, and people, many people, and each shape glimmered with light, layer upon layer of light, blurring outlines of real objects. There were intricate spiderwebs laid across the whole scene, gold threads wrapped around and over everything.”In the villages, the players are feared for it is known they have occult or arcane power, one that destroys as it sets out to give joy. Unlike the players, Mina has the gift of storytelling, and she accesses Tarya differently, going far beyond the realms accessed by the players, realms that are connected to the living earth, to enter the purer planes of existence, where spiritual wisdom resides. This innate ability sets her apart, leads her into danger and ultimately drives her quest.There is much to reflect on in Harlequin’s Riddle, and much to appreciate. Harlequin’s Riddle is a story to lose yourself in, and can be read on many levels. It isn’t necessary to understand anything about the occult or arcani to appreciate the novel, although the astute reader will recognise Harlequin’s Riddle as a transpersonal journey, one of initiation and healing. Nightingale has penned a unique and exquisite tale that deserves to be widely known, a story with a depth of awareness and understanding that will hold special appeal to those with an interest in alternative spiritualities. In the final analysis, Harlequin’s Riddle a work of intelligence and refinement that I can only compare to an Ursula le Guin, with overtones of Umberto Eco in theme but not in compositional style. A visionary fiction masterpiece.

  • Felicity
    2019-04-01 20:19

    Wonderful dark magicThe best fantasy works on two levels, telling a thrilling story and showing real life in e new light at the same time. This does that.

  • Ai Miller
    2019-04-07 18:06

    Full disclosure: I received a free ebook of this through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, and I'd like to thank the publisher for the opportunity to read this!I had a push-pull relationship with this book as I read it; I had a really hard time getting into the book, as I found the early chapters to be somewhat slow. Part of that is my own struggle with diving into new worlds, but I think part of it was because I weirdly couldn't tell if this was supposed to be set in the real world or in a fantasy land? So much of it is pretty clearly drawn from research, to the point where sometimes, especially early on, it felt like something of an infodump, things that were included to show off the research. That isn't terrible per se, just not really my thing when it comes to incorporating it into the story. That being said, once I got past the initial hump, I really blew through this book and mostly enjoyed myself! The plot is pretty compelling and moves at a good rapid pace and (view spoiler)[the ending definitely leaves you really really wanting the next book! (hide spoiler)] The characters slowly came to life and the magical aspects of the book are really pretty damn cool and interesting. I have sort of two major things that make me feel :\ about this book though. The first is a spoiler. (view spoiler)[The whole rape plotline was... bizarre. My reaction may be a side effect of the culture we're currently in as I read this book, but having your main character be drugged and nearly raped, only to have her shrug it off and have to continue to work with her abuser just??? I was confused???? By that choice???? Where it seems like it's not that big a deal until the very end?? Idk it just was a weird choice that threw me way off and I was pretty uncomfortable with the way it was handled narratively. (hide spoiler)]The second thing that made me uncomfortable was the whole thing where it seemed like Nightingale was implying--and maybe I was reading too much into this--that the players were like Rromani people? Which? I had a lot of uncomfortable feelings about in terms of if that was supposed to be taken literally, how I was supposed to grapple with that, were there things being appropriated I just missed out on? I did not see any thanks to a sensitivity reader, maybe Nightingale had one, I'm not sure, but it was something that made me uncomfortable that I wanted to highlight.I did overall enjoy the story of the book though, and was glad for the opportunity to read it! If you like theater and fantasy Renaissance Europe especially this may really be your thing.

  • Judith Michael
    2019-03-29 20:19

    I love reading novels and I don’t mind if the narrative begins slowly. As the story-telling engages me, I will enter the offered world with all its hinted backstory. But the acid test of any book is this; does it keep me reading into the wee small hours? Harlequin’s Riddle did.Mina is a plucky seventeen year old who joins a group of travelling players. Her new life draws her deep into the lives of mysterious artists and their magical theatre. All the while she watches for the smallest clues; she’s not there just for the excitement and the experience. She is desperate to find her older brother, Paolo. He left home to join a group of players and his family has not had news of him for many years.As Mina’s journey lengthens, she immerses herself in the tapestry of a player’s life on the road, with all its joys, trickery, and danger. For the reader swept along with her, the story is not only an immersion into the strange and mystical world of Tarya, but a plunge into the horror of stolen Dreams and broken Threads. The bloodless cruelty of a person separated from their soul crept up on me in a slow burn.The world of Tarya is illusory, dream-like, but Rachel Nightingale knows this place well, as she does the country of Litonya with its idylls and tiny villages. Her writing has a rare truthful quality and I look forward to the rest of Mina’s odyssey.

  • Sandy
    2019-03-29 19:35

    This is a magnificent first novel: a young woman, with an innate ability for magical storytelling, travels with a group of nomadic Players. Her real objective is to discover what happened to her brother, who set off years ago with the same group. The characterizations are compelling and the suspense as to which Player is worthy of trust very effective. My one criticism is that the opening of the novel is very weak: the Prologue makes no contribution and is very oblique, even after finishing the story and re-reading the beginning again. However, as a story of Medieval adventure and journey-quests, this is a marvellous novel. "Can't wait" for the continuation in Book 2! [note: this review was originally posted on my catalogue in LibraryThing as an 'Early Rviewer'.]

  • Kathryn Gossow
    2019-04-14 16:32

    Most of us don't think about where stories come from. What I like most about this book is that it is about storytelling. The book follows a troupe of players, in particular, new player and storyteller Mina. Mina joined the troupe to search for her lost brother and finds along the way that there is an "other place' that is both magic and dangerous. The players dive into this place for their inspiration and characters. The world Nightingale has built it lush and beautiful. It made me look up Commedia dell'Arte - so I learnt something! This book is history with a dash of fantasy. Nightingale has done her research and woven time and place throughout. Here you will find the magic that is the entwining of dream and story.

  • Rachel
    2019-04-19 17:25