Saturday, January 5, 2008

An Emotionally Captivating Novel

“Of the Black Death, they said it was the end of the world; I knew better. The world can withstand the sickness of the body, but it remains to be seen whether it will survive the sickness that eats at the souls of our persecutors...”

So professes Mother Marie Françoise, born Sybille, a poor midwife who is taught pagan ways and magic by her grandmother and is forced to take refuge among the Franciscan sisterhood as the Inquisition threatens. Her extraordinary life story unfolds when a monk is charged with determining whether the mysterious abbess is a saint or a witch.

Sybille is possessed of exceptional powers, and she is in full command of them - practicing magic, winning the hearts of people with her wisdom, and terrorizing church authorities with her cunning. But even witches are not immune to earthly love, and Sybille embarks on a passionate, dangerous quest to be reunited with her beloved. As she confronts an exceptional destiny - one that will require her to face the flames in order to save others like her - she relates a tale of impossible triumph that forever changes the inquisitor who hears it.

The Burning Times brilliantly weaves the mythology of the Knights Templar, witchcraft, and Gnosticism against a backdrop of actual historical events: the Black Death, the Hundred Years' War, and the catastrophic defeat of France by England. Demonstrating the same meticulous research and page-turning plotting that made her Diaries of the Family Dracul series a success, Jeanne Kalogridis crafts together a vivid portrait of this turbulent and fascinating period in world history and, at the same time, delivers a searing love story with a redeeming moral of it's own: The greatest magic is that of compassion.

Title: The Burning Times
Author: Jeanne Kalogridis
Published: 2001
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Pages: 394
Genre: Fiction

The Burning Times is a fantastic piece of literary fiction and historical romance woven together by Jeanne Kalogridis. The book it is set in medieval France but other than a few common French words that are peppered throughout the book, it was completely understandable.

This was the first book I have ever read by this author but I can guarantee you it won’t be the last! For awhile Phillipa Gregory was the queen of historical literary fiction, (in my book at least) but now that I’ve read Kalogridis, I believe Gregory has now been dethroned! I’m so glad my online book group (Witch Novels- now deleted) picked The Burning Times as it’s December group read or else I probably wouldn’t have found this wonderful book! I was completely enthralled by it from the beginning to the end because you never knew what would happen next, just like in a real life story.

Wikipedia has an
article on Jeanne Kalogridis which includes a complete bibliography of her works. Since The Burning Times was published in 2001, there isn’t too much information about it available on the internet but I did manage to find an interview with the author! Reading Group Guides has a discussion guide available for the book as well.

First Sentence: It is a hard, deafening rain.


  1. The only Kalogridis book I have read is The Borgia Bride and I loved it!

  2. This one is definitely going on my wishlist! I haven't ever heard of the book or the author. That must change. Thanks for the review!

  3. I love the cover of that book. Interesting read - thanks for sharing.



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