This book was very different than most historical fiction I’ve read in the past. For the most part, many of the book’s central characters were entirely fictional creations, while the real historical players stayed mostly on the outskirts of the story. This enabled the author to be very daring in the story that she created, and at times I marveled over the extreme darkness that this tale provided. It was more than intriguing to watch all these events unfold, and as the narrative spans the course of several years, there was a lot of figurative space for the story to blossom and realize its full potential.
As the story opens, Rinette is a very young woman in love and is unable to see the follies of her betrothed. These follies are very apparent to the reader, but Loupas does a great job in creating in Rinette a delicious naïveté that is stripped away from her one layer at a time as the narrative moves forward. When the silver casket comes into her possession, the danger and heartache that follow her turn this story from a simple historical fiction piece into a tale of suspense and intrigue that had me deeply wound in the story. As Rinette discovers too late, she’s not the only one who knows about the casket, and due to a betrayal of the most egregious kind, she must now protect herself with a fierceness.
The villains in this story were plentiful and it was almost as if each and every character carried a varying degree of hostility, deceptiveness and danger in them. Discovering the balance of cruel intentions that each of them carried became something of a thrill for me. In a court full of glittering personages, there was virtually no one whom Rinette could trust, and this made her all the more resolute to protect herself at all costs. As the story moves forward, Rinette is burdened with more to lose but also more to love, putting her in the position of secret keeper and warrior, as well as flouromancer and courtier.
There was an element of romance in the book as well, but Loupas does credit to her story by making her hero very enigmatic while drawing him with a touch of duplicity as well. He’s a great match for the heroine, but I felt that the love story wasn’t the primary element to this tale. Each of the characters were finely etched and had ruses and machinations that ran extremely deep. Often I was overwhelmed with the amount of work that must have gone into creating such a cohesive historical drama shot through with threads of mysticism, intrigue and relevance.
I really enjoyed this story and have the feeling that there may be a sequel based on how the tale wraps up at the end. For those readers who don’t naturally gravitate towards this genre, this is a great place to get a toehold. There is enough suspense and mystery to delight readers who lean that way and just enough historical flavor to really give the reader a sense of time and place. There are also an infinite amount of fine details that are worked in with precision, making this book an all around solid read. Worthy of attention and recommended.
This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.