NESFA Members' Reviews

The Oracle Glass

by Judith Merkle Riley

Fawcett Columbine, 1995, ISBN 0-449-91006-7

A book review by Elisabeth Carey

Geneviève Pasquier is the daughter of struggling minor gentry in Louis XIV' s Paris. Born with deformed foot, she is rejected by her mother as completely hopeless, and is raised by her father more as a young philosopher than as a potentially marriageable daughter. Due to her mother's obsession with fortune-telling, she comes to the attention of Catherine Montvoisin, the most successful fortune-teller, witch, and, it turns out, poisoner, in the city. Within a few years, Monsieur Pasquier dies, leaving behind only debts and rumors of money hidden abroad, which Geneviève's mother and uncle believe he has given Geneviève the secret of. She flees the ensuing abuse, and is rescued from the street by Mme. Montvoisin, who trains her to be a very successful, fashionable, profitable fortune-teller herself. Montvoisin, it seems, is not just a fortune-teller and witch herself, but the Shadow Queen, the head of a witches' guild that has grown frighteningly powerful in 17th-century Paris.

Initially pleased with her new life, Geneviève gradually becomes aware of the darker side of her patron's business, and their association becomes a dangerous battle of wits. Recommended.

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