"The Devil’s Mistress" Book Review
Written by Janine Pipe
Published by Silver Shamrock Publishing
Written by David Barclay
2021, 170 pages, Fiction
Released on March 19th, 2021
The Devil’s Mistress is David Barclay’s new novel from Silver Shamrock. Set in 1705 in the town of Blackfriar, it is a great read for someone like myself who has an interest in the witch trials in both the UK and Europe, and the US.
The language Barclay uses is fitting with the period but is balanced insofar as you are able to understand it – it isn’t all ‘olde worlde’ or written in iambic pentameter (thank goodness). The prose reads like he had done his homework, as it feels authentic and atmospheric. There is great descriptive language using all the senses – I was able to smell the dampness in the woods and mead in the tavern.
It is fairly short, only 170 pages, but there is plenty of action within this narrative. We follow the actions of Isabella, a young lady engaged to be wed to a man she does not love and destined to lead a life she doesn’t want. So, she visits an enchantress and then all hell breaks loose. Well of course it does!
After a series of rather unfortunate events, she is charged with murder and put on trial as a witch. What follows is an interesting take on the self-fulfilling prophecy and some truly barbaric scenes which were sadly not unusual during such trials.
This all culminates in a final act of crazy and a slightly disappointing end which I can’t reveal reasons for without spoilers. I love third act madness, and there is plenty of action, it is just a little chaotic as so much happens. I had to re-read a couple of chapters, as I thought I had possibly missed something.
That said, this is an enjoyable read. The characters are interesting and the plot, although not ground-breaking, is interesting and brings with it the ultimate gravitas of being based on real historic events, albeit an embellished and a fictional account. This did happen and that makes it all the more frightening. It is a quick and fun read which I appreciated and there are a couple of particularly gross scenes gorehounds such as myself will appreciate.
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