Monday, June 12, 2017
Book Review: Mistress of the Art of Death
Adelia Aguilar is an extreme oddity for her time: a woman, living in the 1100's who is a licensed Doctor. She is the titular Mistress of the Art of Death in Ariana Franklin's novel: someone who is skilled in figuring out how people died - what today might be called a forensic pathologist or a coroner.
Though she is Italian, and makes her home in Naples, she has been summoned to England as the king's last hope: to solve a series of brutal child murders that are being blamed on Cambrige's small but wealthy community of Jews. Being unmarried, and a Jew herself, Adelia must travel incognito, with her chaperones Simon (also a Jew) and Mansur (a Moorish eunuch) posing as the doctors and Adelia posing as their assistant. Adelia must maintain her secret or risk being accused of witchcraft (an accusation punishable by death) all the while hunting a twisted serial killer. Everyone she meets is a suspect - even the king himself.
The novel is an unusual amalgamation of genres - partly historical fiction, partly murder mystery, with just a smidge of unlikely romance tossed in for good measure. It's also the first book in a 4 book series. Though some aspects of the book are extremely unrealistic for the time period (the fact that the protagonist is a sassy, self-sufficient FEMALE DOCTOR in Medieval England being the most unrealistic) it is a great page turner and a really satisfying mystery. I didn't have any clue who the killer was until the very end when it was revealed, which I always appreciate in a mystery, and happens all too rarely. I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.
Final Review: 3/5 bookmarks