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Review: The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley

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The Oracle Glass
Author: Judith Merkle Riley 
Release Date: Nov. 6, 2012
(first published 1994)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

ISBN: 978-1402270581

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Historical Romance
Format(s): Paperback (544 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/ NetGalley
About the book:
It is the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, and a Queen of Shadows rules in secret over Paris. So great is the power of La Voisin that even the king’s mistress, Madame de Montespan, is dosing her royal lover with the sorceress queen’s aphrodisiacs. Ladies of the highest fashion frequent the “fortune tellers” of her secret society to purchase abortions, luck charms, and poisons as easily as they might order a new gown.
Into this world of brilliant debauch and evil enters a dazzling and mysterious figure, the Marquise de Morville. She is rumored to be over one hundred and fifty years old, with powers to read the future in the swirling waters of her oracle glass.
In fact she is Genevieve Pasquier, a precocious, crippled adolescent girl with genuine prophetic powers, abandoned by her family and taken up and trained by La Voisin, the Shadow Queen, to enter the very highest court circles. Shrewd, witty, and observant, Genevieve carries off her role as an ancient prophetess with flair, even though her heart is torn with a young girl’s emotions.
But just as she is on the verge of discovering true love, the Chief of Police in Paris, Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie, is on the verge of discovering La Voisin’s network of poisoners and sorcerers. Can Genevieve escape the stake? Who will live and who will die in the wake of the king’s terrible vengeance?
What VampBards talking about:
I struggled to get into The Oracle Glass.  However, once things got moving, I truly enjoyed the story.  It’s one of those slow starters, with tons of information in the backstory that is absolutely necessary.  The reader is welcomed into the lives of the characters, especially Genevive.  
As the story opens, we see Genevive berated and shunned by her mother.  The death of her father and grandmother, the only relatives that have ever shown her kindness, has a profound effect on the teen.  Clothed in her mourning dress, she heads to the cold river to commit suicide.  She is intercepted by La Voisin, The Shadow Queen, and the hub of ‘witchcraft’ in town.  
Predictions are a hot commodity, and young Genevive has a natural penchant for water reading.  By simply peering into water, she can oftentimes see the future.  La Voisin grooms young Genevive into the 150 year-old Marquise de Morville, a widow.  The ‘Marquise’ was allowed to have her freedom without the questions and whispers from the public.  She would also be able to move freely about town, unescorted.  
Time rolls on, and Genevive grows up.  She perfects her ruse, and money begins to roll in.  The courtiers are interested in Genevive’s visions, as they always want to know whether they will be in favor, or whether they should be working harder to ingratiate themselves to the crown.  Especially the mistresses of the Sun King.  
Even a girl with resources beyond her imagination yearns for romance.  Genevive pined for Lamotte, the gorgeous playwright, who pined after her sister.  Plot twists, losses, and the necessity for mutual comfort found these unlikely bedfellows wrinkling the sheets on a single occasion.  However, Genevive learns that Florent is infatuated with her, and begins a relationship with him that ultimately fulfills her needs.  The road to romance was paved with broken and lumpy stones for the duo.  
Florent, the son of a clockmaker, was forced to falsely endure imprisonment.  Returning to Genevive was one of the few things to which he looked forward upon the conclusion of his sentence.  As both Florent and Genevive were students of logic, it stood to reason that they would have mutual affection for one another.  They would understand the methods by which decisions were made, and would thusly follow similar thought and decision-making patterns.  It looked as though things were to be easy for them.  Naturally, things were far from simple.
Over-all, my impression of The Oracle Glass was favorable.  I thoroughly enjoyed the banter between Genevive and La Voisin, Genevive and Florent, as well as the tenacity of Genevive in general.  I got the impression that Genevive’s re-invention of herself was merely to spite her mother and brother.  She wanted to be a well-concealed success.  She was able to be a strong, independent woman (with a few limits set by La Voisin), and make her own way in the world at a tender age, despite a society that fiercely forbid such things from happening.  The patriarchal society was a difficult thing for Genevive to survive, as she was her father’s heir – and control of all assets were held by her brother, as she was unmarried.  Cue the problem-solving prowess of Florent.  I like the way his mind works.  Nothing is hotter than a man that can problem-solve on-the-fly.  
The romance between Genevive and Florent was sweet.  There were a few flaming-hot moments, but truly, this story is not about the romance.  It’s about commitment to one’s self as well as the ability to commit to another.  The physical manifestation of love is the passionate sexual encounters to which we’re privy as readers.  Genevive and Florent are definitely a couple to which the burden of love has been imbued.  
VampBards Rating:

Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)





Purchase Info:
The Oracle Glass
  • I’ve heard so much about this book but had no clue what the book was about. Sounds like a different read from your average paranormal romance. I think I’ll have to check this one out. Thanks VB!

  • @Rum: I think that the paranormal aspect wasn’t the major focus, which made it different. HOWEVER…NOT a YA read. MAYBE older YA. 16+, but there IS one sex scene and I thought it was pretty intense – too intense for 15 y.o. daughter.

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