Saturday, July 9, 2016

Daughter of Mystery (Alpennia #1), by Heather Rose Jones

Bella Books, ISBN 2940150664623, February 2014

Alpennia is a small country, probably near Switzerland, at perhaps, roughly, the Regency period in English history. This is a different history, though, and along with all the normal rites of the Church, there are the Mysteries, real visions and miracles, with their own rites and ceremonies.

Margerit Sovitre is an orphan whose guardians are her mother's brother, and her father's sister--who often do not see eye to eye. With a limited fortune of her own, and Uncle Fulpi having two daughters of his own to bring out, Margerit is getting one season to find a husband, maybe a second if necessary.

And then, quite unexpectedly, her godfather, Baron Saveze, dies, and leaves his wealth to her. He does not leave her his title, which goes to his nephew Estefan, with whom he has been on bad terms for a long time.

Margerit is suddenly wealthy, and also suddenly has an enemy. It's just as well the Baron has also left her his bodyguard, Barbara.

When Margerit and her kin relocate to the capital, Rotenek, Margerit starts getting an education--in several senses. She's long wanted to be a scholar; now she can, pretending to be a dilettante, pursue an education though not a degree at the university. Having learned that not everyone sees the "ordinary" visions she sees, Margerit is learning to use her gift. She's getting a less welcome education in the ways of a higher level of society than she knew back home in Chalanz,

Less welcome even than that is the education she's getting in politics. She doesn't have any title or any position except that of wealthy heiress, but the prince is old and ailing, and here in the capital, the possibility of doing or saying the wrong thing, of seeming to support one or another of the prospective heirs--and maybe not the successful one--is quite real. Estefan's enmity is even more dangerous here than in Chalanz.

And Margerit is getting an education in love, from the most unexpected part of her inheritance, Barbara, her godfather's armin.

Barbara's background is completely obscure; the Baron bought her from her fallen and imprisoned father as an infant, and has never told her his name. She's gotten an extensive education--fit for a lady, an heir, and an armin. And she had expected to be freed on the Baron's death, but instead, she is now bound for two more years, until she and Margerit are both of age.

Jones has created an absorbing mix of intrigue, fantasy, and romance, with unexpected twists along the way. Neither Margarit nor Barbara is in any way perfect, but they are both interesting, smart, decent, and ultimately likable. I'm looking forward to reading more in this world.

Recommended.

I bought this book.