Book Review: The Devil’s Mistress
A recent release from @silvershamrockpublishing and author David Barclay.
SUMMARY: Virginia 1705 Darkness has come to the town of Blackfriar. The beloved millwright, John Ashford, has been poisoned. His daughter, Isabella, stands trial for murder. Rumor has it that she consorted with the Devil to do the deed. That she’s become a witch. The worst thing, however, is what the townsfolk don’t know: Isabella is innocent. After visiting the local enchantress for a simple love spell, her life is beset by catastrophe. Her father turns up dead. Her sadistic fiancé spurns her. Now in shackles, Isabella faces torture and death. Her only friend, the enchantress. The old crone offers Isabella a new choice: continue to suffer at the hands of her tormentors, or become the very thing they fear.
I enjoyed this semi-historical tale of misplaced rage, young love, and fierce vengeance. Isabella is a character who is easy to sympathize with, just as it’s easy to hate those who hate her (especially her betrothed, whose sadistic nature is very reminiscent of Ramsay Bolton from Game of Thrones). The story assumes a leisurely pace in the beginning, but then takes quite the violent turn when Isabella is taken prisoner and accused of witchcraft. Needless to say, this is when the story really gets good.
I really liked the emphasis on historical accuracy and how the author took his time with the witch trial scenes (showing exactly how this might have gone down in the past, and including a skeptical judge to play up the tension between religious superstition and scientific reason). Then the final third takes even another turn, lurching into a strange and chaotic revenge story. Overall I liked the pacing and what happens in the book, as well as the author’s attempt to write in a style that is more historically accurate while also feeling brisk and modern. Though there are some moments and plot points that I’m still a little unclear on, I would still recommend this if you’re into historical horror, witchcraft, and revenge tales.