The Burning Times
by Jeanne Kalogridis
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
368 pages; ISBN: 0684869233
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner
In 1357 France, the Inquisition agents of Cardinal Chretien arrest Franciscan Abbess Marie Francois. They charge her with heresy for practicing pagan rituals and magic, and for communicating with the devil. They plan to burn Marie at the stake so she can serve as an example to those who stray from the right path of worshipping God.
The reluctant Dominican scribe, Michel, who prefers to save souls, rather than dispatch people to the next life, is chosen to obtain Marie's confession. However, Michel feels Marie is pure, good, and holy instead of an evil witch. He decides to prove her innocent of the charges even after she admits her grandmother taught her the pagan ways. Forced to flee, Marie whose birth name is Sybille, joins the "Race" and seeks out her lover Luc de la Rose for the good of her "people".
THE BURNING TIMES is at its best when it stays with fourteenth century realities like the Black Plague, the French Inquisition, the burning of witches at the stakes, and the pagan religions. When the plot veers into fantasyland, it loses speed as a different type of tale emerges. Likewise, key characters are impacted especially the heroine. As Marie she is an incredible individual struggling against a rising tide, but as Sybille she seems mythological as if she truly is Diana the Huntress. Known for her vampire tales, Jeanne Kalogridis has written an intriguing historical fiction that will attract readers, but the talented author took too big of a bite with this story line(s).
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