The Spanish Witch
by Anne Herries
Publisher; Manga Large Print Books/2004/England
"She was a Spaniard - and beyond his reach..."
Plot; When Dona Magdalene d'Ortega was summoned to take her place next to Nicholas Treggaron, Queen's Elizabeth's envoy, at dinner with the King Phillip of Spain, little did she guess that her days of innocence were numbered.
Magdalene would soon be caught up in the nightmare of the Inquisition, and accused of witchcraft and heresy.
Treggaron was prepared to disobey his Queen to save her, but what would he demand in return?
When Dona Magdalene learnt the true nature of his mission, would she turn from him in hatred?
My Thoughts; What a great fast-paced thrill for a lazy, rainy afternoon. Once I picked this book up I couldn't put it down until I had reached the heart stopping end.
Strictly speaking this book is classified as a romance novel, but in my opinion it should be shifted to the historical fiction pile. Yes there is romance, and it is cheek-reddening romance, but this book also has a rich dose of English history thrown in to make it a very entertaining, and very enthralling read.
In terms of romance, this is your typical "abrupt and lonely pirate treating his woman badly and she loves him anyway" type novel, but what makes this book so much more entertaining is the the great dialogues with coarse but endearing Queen Elizabeth, the thrilling canon-ball battles, the heated chase of the evil Spanish Inquisition and the snake-like threat of a conniving, murderous priest.
I found the characters in this novel to be very enjoyable people to take this journey with. Magdalene may be your typical damsel in distress through most of the book, but you cannot help but feel for the woman, whose only curse is that she is beautiful and naive, which of course makes her a witch in the eyes of the heartless Inquisition.
Nick, the hero of the tale, may be domineering and jealous by nature, but you cannot help but like him. He has had a terribly troubling past which haunts him and it almost makes his faults understandable.
I must give a hand to Herries for the research that must have gone into this book; the old language, the history of the Inquisition and Armada, the ways of the English court. Herries has taken what could have been a sappy and disinteresting story and made it an engrossing page-turner.
I must also give Herries a hand for the way this book has been constructed. At times it made me laugh at how different men and woman really are. Herries has, ever-so-cleverly, written this book so that you first see it through Magdalene's eyes and then through the eyes of Nick which, for most of the time, showed exactly how men and woman vary in their understanding of events and actions.
I would recommend this book to anyone who, like me, loves historical fiction with a touch of forbidden love. It is definitely a book to curl up on the lounge with, cup of tea in hand.