Fraught with conspiracy and passion, the Sun King’s opulent court is brought to vivid life in this captivating tale about a woman whose love was more powerful than magic.
The alignment of the stars at Marie Mancini’s birth warned that although she would be gifted at divination, she was destined to disgrace her family. Ignoring the dark warnings of his sister and astrologers, Cardinal Mazarin brings his niece to the French court, where the forbidden occult arts thrive in secret. In France, Marie learns her uncle has become the power behind the throne by using her sister Olympia to hold the Sun King, Louis XIV, in thrall.
Desperate to avoid her mother’s dying wish that she spend her life in a convent, Marie burns her grimoire, trading Italian superstitions for polite sophistication. But as her star rises, King Louis becomes enchanted by Marie’s charm. Sensing a chance to grasp even greater glory, Cardinal Mazarin pits the sisters against each other, showering Marie with diamonds and silks in exchange for bending King Louis to his will.
Disgusted by Mazarin’s ruthlessness, Marie rebels. She sacrifices everything, but exposing Mazarin’s deepest secret threatens to tear France apart. When even King Louis’s love fails to protect Marie, she must summon her forbidden powers of divination to shield her family, protect France, and help the Sun King fulfill his destiny.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Historical fiction can go either way, and usually I tend to be disappointed with some part or the other of it. Either the dialogue is all wrong or the characters based on real people seem nothing like what we know of the actual person from historical documents.
This book not only managed to avoid those pitfalls, but also filled in the gaps in our knowledge of certain aspects and characters with a brilliantly crafted and quite plausible narrative. I was thrilled with this novel, and found it impossible to put down. The letters the author crafted between Marie and Louis are amazing, since those, in reality, did not survive. For her to create such eloquently worded and realistic correspondence nearly made me forget I wasn’t reading the real thing. Loved it.
I loved the portrayal of Marie and her relationship with King Louis. She was not a helpless waif in this story that was just another of the king’s mistresses, and he was very realistically drawn as a man struggling to learn the ropes of ruling a kingdom. He was intelligent, cocky, yet vulnerable to the powers of Marie. The love story was beautifully written and I was excited that the author did not change the true end result of their lives just to make her book work.
It takes a lot of research, time and effort to write an excellent historical novel, and this is one of the best that I have had the pleasure of reading. I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the period as well as for those just looking for a well-crafted read to keep them entertained.
I am anxious to see more from this author and encourage you to check out this book.
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.