Monday, July 31, 2017

Mélisande by Philippa Lodge

I’m not Catholic – not very religious at all, in fact – so the fact that part of the story is a young woman’s conversion to Catholicism surprised me, too. It was the dominant and official religion in France in the seventeenth century, of course, but magic was still a major player. France had dabbled in witchcraft trials for a while, but never with the intensity of the Spanish Inquisition and the English and their colonies. At the time I’ve set this story, the court scandal was not that people consulted witches and bought potions from them, but that some of those potions were poison bought to free unhappy spouses and greedy heirs.

Oh, and that the king’s official mistress, Madame de Montespan, might have been participating in satanic rituals. She might NOT have, too, as all the “evidence” was given under torture, when witches were saying anything at all to try to make it stop. But King Louis XIV had all the evidence gathered and locked away, then burned the box. He was probably protecting the children he had with her, as he had legitimized them and given them estates and titles and rich spouses, and not protecting her, precisely.

So anyway, a lot of Googling of saints and practices and churches and miracles later, and here we are.

Melisande is becoming Catholic to please her birth father and get enough money to support herself and her family. Lucas has been steeped in it from childhood and is in danger of becoming as rigid and angry as his godfather, who is Melisande’s father. He’s at a turning point in his life, though, where his godfather has shown his feet of clay, hunger for power, and hypocrisy one too many times. And along comes this element of his godfather’s past, the illegitimate child of the old days when the Comte was partying with witches. Let the struggle for the souls begin.

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