The Empire by Michael Ball

It’s my stop today on the blog tour for The Empire by Michael Ball. Many thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for the invite.

Title: The Empire

Author: Michael Ball

Published on: 13 October 2022

Genre: Fiction (Historical)

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Empire by Michael Ball is a charming, captivating, majestic, electrifying, exciting and dazzling masterpiece. I know I used a lot of adjectives here but this wonderful piece of work deserves all the praises in the whole wide world. 🙂

The story begins with Jack Treadwell returning home. It’s been a couple of years since the war ended and Jack’s parents succumbed to the flu. So he saw no reason to return until he started missing what he left behind. In a letter that his mother left him, she had asked him to meet Lillian Lassiter, the new heiress of The Empire.

Lillian Lassiter’s just buried her husband Sir Barnabas Lassiter and is traveling to New York for a month or two. Jack joins as a watchman at The Empire. But when he picks up a few DIY refurbishing, he catches the attention of Grace Hawkins, The Empire’s manager’s assistant.

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Joe Allerdyce wants to bring down The Empire. When he makes sure that none of the plays or artists are available for hire, Grace Hawkins manages to find a troupe but the play is a disaster. So Jack comes up with a plan – why not turn the existing play into a comic act? His idea becomes a roaring success. But there’s a catch – the troupe was booked for six weeks and they cannot extend their contract.

Meanwhile, Lillian Lassiter learns of The Empire’s new doorman-turned-assistant-to-Grace-Hawkins and immediately returns home. Her best friend and actress Evie is tagging along. Meanwhile, rumors of a scandalous cover-up threaten the future of The Empire. Can Jack discover the truth before it is too late?

O.M.G! I am not sure if I read a story or watched a play. As I was reading through, I could imagine all the scenes (and acts) in my head. The glitz, the glamour, gossip and rumor, villains (well, every story must have one, right?) and a dash of romance, this book is an absolute masterpiece.

I loved the characters and the setting. I have read a couple of historical fiction novels but if I have to pick a story that stood out from the rest, I would definitely pick The Empire. Soon after joining The Empire, Jack learns there’s a lot more to a theatre than just plays. The actors, things that happen backstage, the costumes and of course, juicy gossip that threatens to hamper progress.

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The story gets real juicy (with a twist or two) when Jack learns of a shocking secret – good enough to bring down what he built so far. The ending was a huge surprise – one last twist before the curtain falls.

If I have to choose a favorite character – well, a difficult task this as I also loved Grace, Stella, Evie, Edmond (a perfect villain), Billy, Lance, Usher (whose name sounds like sheep eating blancmange) and Lillian – I would choose Jack. From a PoW to doorman to assistant to manager, he’s had the most transforming role in the story.

There’s also a bit of mystery – something to do with stolen funds and false accusation. This side story took an interesting turn when someone close to Jack decided to investigate. The game is afoot!

I absolutely loved every bit of this book – from characters to story to storytelling. My favorite author list has a new entry. 🙂 Fingers crossed Michael Ball is going to write more books in the near future. 🙂

If you are looking for a magnificent and captivating read set in the 1922, full of drama, glitz and glamour, I highly recommend you to give The Empire by Michael Ball a try.


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