Author: Liza Perrat
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Bone Angel series
Page Count of Paper Copy: 412
Source: directly from author
Publisher: Perrat Publishing
First Published: Oct 2015
First Line: "Christ's toenails, ignore him Héloïse", Isa chided, as I glared at Drogan sauntering towards us through the marketplace stalls and customers."
Book Description from GoodReads: 1348. A bone-sculpted angel and the woman who wears it––heretic, Devil’s servant, saint.
Midwife Héloïse has always known that her bastard status threatens her standing in the French village of Lucie-sur-Vionne. Yet her midwifery and healing skills have gained the people’s respect, and she has won the heart of the handsome Raoul Stonemason. The future looks hopeful. Until the Black Death sweeps into France.
Fearful that Héloïse will bring the pestilence into their cottage, Raoul forbids her to treat its victims. Amidst the grief and hysteria, the villagers searching for a scapegoat, Héloïse must choose: preserve her marriage, or honour the oath she swore on her dead mother’s soul? And even as she places her faith in the protective powers of her angel talisman, she must prove she’s no Devil’s servant, her talisman no evil charm.
My Review: Author Liza Perrat once again has written a vivid tale set within a notable historical setting as part of her Bone Angel series. This is the third book in her historical fiction trilogy but all three books are great as stand-alones (I had only read 'Wolfsangel' before this book) so readers can pick up any of the books without the fear that they're missing out on personal histories/story lines.
Blood Rose Angel centres around the 14th century pandemic plague that killed nearly fifty percent of Europe's population. It was a time of great terror and extreme loss that was only exacerbated by superstitious, prejudicial and ignorant beliefs of the time. Perrat paints a vivid picture of life in a small French town during this plague complete with social, religious and personal issues that draw the reader into her story. That doesn't mean it didn't have its frustrating parts that were hard to read - namely some of the (now silly) views that somehow everything from cats, lepers, amulets or Jews were the reason for the pestilence and disease spreading and killing so many. Or how superstition trumped science when it came to hygiene, health and the treatment of women as lesser.
Perrat tells her story using a wide array of characters within the small French town of Lucie-sur-Vionne each with their own vibrant personalities. I guarantee that you won't like all of them but you will remember them. I found Héloïse to be a strong female character. She was smart and went to great lengths to protect her family, friends and townspeople. She was also stubborn and sometimes hard to support as she brazenly and sometime stupidly would put herself in harm's way because of her actions or, more likely, her big mouth. There were a few times when I wanted to shake her and yell "Just shut UP!" because you could see that her mouth was, at times, her biggest adversary.
Readers are given a startling look at life back in the 1300's. Perrat shows with vivid clarity the effects of the plague physically and emotionally on those who suffered its effects as well as the devastation it had on whole communities. There was rampant fear, fear mongering as well as their misguided beliefs in medicine, general hygiene and the blatant lack of women's rights.
Midwifery is a big part of the story line as are the real threats of witchery and heresy claims that many midwives had to deal with due to ignorance spread by fear and patriarchal powers. Within this tumultuous time Perrat also showcases the female bond between family members as well as women within the community.
My only negative about the book was that the pace in the middle lagged a bit and the big reveal of Héloïse's father was a little lackluster and felt like it was thrown in quickly to sum things up.
Overall, this was an enjoyable historical fiction book that was the wonderfully absorbing read that I've come to expect from Liza Perrat.
My Rating: 4 stars
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to author Liza Perrat for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.