The Conjuror’s Apprentice: Coffee Pot Club Blog Tour.

Born with the ability to hear thoughts and feelings when there is no sound, Margaretta Morgan’s strange gift sees her apprenticed to Doctor John Dee, mathematician, astronomer, and alchemist. Using her secret link with the hidden side and her master’s brilliance, Margaretta faces her first murder mystery. Margaretta and Dee must uncover the evil bound to unravel the court of Bloody Mary. 

The year is 1555. This is a time ruled by fear. What secrets await to be pulled from the water?

The Conjuror’s Apprentice takes real people and true events in 1555, into which G J Williams weaves a tale of murder and intrigue. Appealing to readers of crime and well researched historical fiction alike, this is the first in a series which will follow the life, times, plots and murders of the Tudor Court.

Trigger Warnings:

Descriptions of bodies and the injuries that brought about their death. 

Threat of torture; description of man who has been tortured.


The coach rattled out of St Dunstan’s onto Eastcheap and headed west. The night’s rain had made the road a mess of mud and small stones. Every few minutes, a large divot would make their vehicle lurch to the side. Margaretta clung to the window frame and stared out to stop herself getting sick in her stomach. Doctor John, dressed in his favourite coat of blue and his head well covered by his cap, was reading a document, apparently oblivious to the rolling and clattering. He had taken care to wash his beard this morning, so it shone like a dark waterfall from his chin to his chest. His face, prematurely lined but kind, was golden as the early sun shone through from the East.

Margaretta studied him. She had calculated he was only twenty-seven years old yet his face seemed to hold the history of a hundred men – though this was not so surprising. In his life he had already been a scholar in both England and in foreign lands, a tutor, a maker of fantastical models, a mathematician, an astrologer, and advisor to King Edward, the poor child. Even the great warrior knight, Sir Herbert of Pembroke, had trusted him in his household. John Dee had been born the son of an immensely rich wool-tax collector, favoured by King Henry. But now he was poor and ignored by Henry’s daughter, Mary Tudor, though he was ever seeking a route back to the riches of court, recognition and the resumption of the family fortunes.

In John Dee’s lap was a parchment covered in circles within a divided square. Words were carefully entered into a panel at the side while numbers littered the circles. Periodically, he would sigh and shake his head. ‘What is the document?’ asked Margaretta, bored with the silence now. 

‘Another horoscope divined using my new method of measurement,’ came the vague answer.

‘Is it not foolish to carry such things out of the house, doctor? Anything but the words of the Pope is beckoning accusation these days and you…’

John Dee batted away the end of her sentence with an irritated wagging of his hand. ‘I need to check my calculations. If this is true then the tarot underestimated the future. This portends many enemies surrounding the Lady Elizabeth. I saw it last month when I conjured her first horoscope. But it worsens.’

Margaretta pushed her head out of the window to see if the coachman could hear them. Thank the Lord he was singing to himself and so taking no notice. She turned to warn Dee

anyway but he was deep in contemplation again.

Margaretta stared out. The streets thronged with animals and people all busying their way through the detritus of the road. Hawkers screeched their wares, delivery boys shouted for a clear path to save dropping the huge packages on their back, well-dressed women held up nosegays and looked away from the beggars and children who held out hopeful hands. But not a single face held a smile. Yet only a few short weeks ago, the streets had been full of rejoicing, hailing of glad tidings; Te Deums were sung in every church. Priests thanked the Lord for the safe delivery of a son to Queen Mary and in the streets people danced as if this child was the second coming, here to save them from a terrible fate – being ruled by Mary’s husband, the very Spanish King Philip.

Then the rumours started. There was no cry of a newborn. Some said the queen had lied, others spoke behind their hands of Lord North trying to buy the babes of women who had birthed the child of a Spaniard; pamphlets shouted that the queen was dead. Court went quiet and London waited while criers claimed the doctors had simply miscalculated the birthing day. Sullen silence. Then the screams from the pyres started again.

As if he could read her thoughts, John Dee suddenly looked up. ‘You have not told me about your lesson yesterday.’

Margaretta swallowed hard. Recalling the flames and the screams would only raise the bile already collecting in her throat. ‘Cruel,’ she snapped, not looking at him.

‘Come, Margaretta. If you are going to hone your gifts you have to understand the full spectrum of men’s feelings, fears and fallacious thoughts. The good, the evil, the kind, the cruel, the intelligent and the witless. It is all part of our soul and you need to see them all.’

Margaretta turned bright, green eyes on her master. ‘I can feel evil without having to see its result, Doctor John. I’ll never forget those cries. Terrible it was.’ She sat back with a self- righteous huff.

Abruptly, her travelling companion looked out of the window, his face setting into a grim glare. ‘They will be with their maker now, Margaretta. There will be peace for them.’

‘But not for the poor souls sitting in a cell condemned to such an end…nor their kin who have to watch.’

‘That is enough, Margaretta.’

‘Then I have had enough learning for this week, doctor.’ John Dee sighed and stared down at his parchment.

Margaretta gazed at him. Strange. He is the only one I cannot read, cannot feel. I cannot sense the spirit below the skin. It’s as if he is able to block me. What thoughts fill that great head, other than dreams of getting to court and recreating his family’s position in the palace?

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After a career as a business psychologist for city firms, G.J. Williams has returned to her first passion – writing tales of murder, mystery and intrigue. Her psychology background melded with a love of medieval history, draws her to the twists and turns of the human mind, subconscious powers and the dark-side of people who want too much. 

She lives between Somerset and London in the UK and is regularly found writing on a train next to a grumpy cat and a bucket of tea.

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