- Paperback: 300 pages
- Publisher: Fireship Press (Sept. 15 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1611793653
- ISBN-13: 978-1611793659
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.7 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 340 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,497,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Charlatan Paperback – Sep 15 2016
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"I enjoyed it enormously...you brought The Affair flooding back to me with added excellent detail...It really is a remarkable achievement." Anne Somerset, author The Affair of the Poisons "This book kept me reading into the night...luxury and squalor, royal scandal and sorcery...how could it not?" Fay Weldon, author The Life and Loves of a She-devil "Reading Charlatan, you are sure to be both entranced and repulsed by Braithwaite's depictions of Machiavellian scheming, sorcery, and lust." -University of Toronto
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Kate Braithwaite's writing is so rich. The detail and descriptions transported me to 17 Century Paris. Every page held me and made it impossible to put down. The desperation and the evil underbelly of France's nobility was shocking and satisfying at the same time. A must read.
Police attempt to figure out who is dabbling in the Dark Arts and will not stop at mere interrogations but have resorted to torture and even public executions in order to remove any suspicion or threat of sorcery from the king's court. When they focus their investigation on Catherine Montvoisin, a woman known for providing Dark solutions, it has a rippling effect among not only the nobility but those further down the social food chain.
This is a time of greed, corruption and climbing the social ladder where being in or out of favour with the King of France brings different kinds of danger. There is mystery, intrigue, sinister plots and a rather large group of characters. The story lines are reasonably intricate without being too fussy or overly verbose but seem to have a rather narrow scope.
At the heart of the book there are two different story lines. One follows Philippe Bezons, the young assistant to the chief of police who is eager to prosecute Montvoisin but not if it puts the woman he loves at risk. The other story line follows Athenais, the aging mistress of the King, who is suspected of using Dark magic to maintain the King's attention. It is her story that I found most compelling and to whom I was most sympathetic.
I will admit that it took me a little bit to get into the story but once it got rolling I was quite engaged. The one criticism I had was that there were so many characters, many of whom are secondary, within the two story lines that it was sometimes difficult to remember the specific traits, history etc of different characters and to keep track of who was who.
Readers will be impressed with the writing in this novel. Braithwaite's writing is so descriptive that you can clearly imagine the beautiful gardens and ornate surroundings of the grand palaces as well as the truly decrepit and fetid conditions of the Chateau de Vincennes, the overpopulated prison where some rather graphic torture takes place.
There is a lot going on in this book but Braithwaite has woven an intriguing story. It is clear that she has done a lot of research on this era. Since I typically don't read much historical fiction centred in France I was pleased to learn that many of the characters in her book were based on real historical figures with a touch of fiction to bring it all together. Might as well learn a little while enjoying a suspenseful read, right?
This is a book that focuses on what people will do in order to achieve their deepest, and sometimes, darkest desires. It's a book about maintaining power at any cost as well as the impact of fear and jealousy. Fans of Jane Johnson (Pillars of Light) and Sally Christie (The Sisters of Versailles) should enjoy this book.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to author Kate Braithwaite for providing me with a complimentary copy of her book in exchange for my honest review.
This book offers all of that and more. (It also manages to do so within a reasonable number of pages, unlike many bloated tomes that are typical of this genre.)
Braithwaite’s writing makes you want to eat the words off the page. (Except, of course, when she’s plunging you into an overpopulated, rat-infested prison cell in 17th century Paris; then you’ll want to keep your lips tightly shut.)
The book is populated with characters that are infinitely compelling in their hideousness, but also sympathetic. An ambitious young investigator’s idealistic search for the truth uncovers a web of sorcery and witchcraft that stretches as far as the court of Louis XIV and then, in a breathtakingly revolting twist, threatens to ensnare him as well.
As much as I cringed for the young officer, however, my heart was with Athenais, the magnetic but aging mistress of the womanizing King. Athenais resorts to black magic not only to retain the King’s affection but also to save her position and the future prospects of her children. What a fascinating peek into the dynamics (and limitations) of female power in the court of Louis XIV.
For readers who like a side of actual history with their fiction, you’ll be intrigued to find that many of the characters in the book are real. There’s nothing better than learning about historical figures and events through the eyes of a talented storyteller.
Set aside some time after you’re done reading to do some serious Wikipedia browsing. You’ll be surprised how much richer the 17th century seems now that you’ve spent time in Braithwaite’s Versailles.