Title: The Devil’s Queen, A Novel of Catherine de Medici
Author: Jean Kalogridis
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publishing Date: May 2010
Rating: 5 Crowns
Confidante of Nostradamus, scheming mother-in-law to Mary, Queen of Scots, and architect of the bloody St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, Catherine de Medici is brought to life by Jeanne Kalogridis, the bestselling author of, Mona Lisa and The Borgia Bride.
Born into one of Florence’s most powerful families, Catherine was soon left a fabulously rich orphan. Violent conflict tore apart the city state and she found herself imprisoned before finally being released and married off to the handsome Prince Henri of France.
Overshadowed by her husband’s mistress, the gorgeous, conniving Diane de Poitiers, and unable to bear children, Catherine resorted to the dark arts of sorcery to win Henri’s love and enhance her fertility—for which she would pay a price. Against the lavish and decadent backdrop of the French court, and Catherine’s blood-soaked visions of the future, Kalogridis reveals the great love and desire Catherine bore for her husband, Henri, and her stark determination to keep her sons on the throne.
(from the back cover)
When the story opens we see that Florence has fallen into a turbulent time, the Palazzo Medici is surrounded by rebels calling for a new form of government, and Pope Clement (born Giulio de Medici), is now a prisoner of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles. It was truly a horrible time for the Medici’s and we see the effects that it has upon Catherine who is only eight at the time. After her father’s death Catherine is left in the care of her Aunt Clarice, who is a very ruthless woman, and her only intentions is keep the powers of the Medici’s strong, so Catherine begins to take on the actions of her Aunt. Not only with her goal of keeping the Medici’s strong, but we see Catherine take on her Aunts fascination with the occult. After Catherine’s escape from the Palazzo Medici, she then endures several years of imprisonment, where her belief and friendship with Cosimo Ruggieri grows stronger. Cosimo is sort of like her sorcerer/confident in a way, and she becomes devoted him and he to her. After her years of captivity, she reunited with what remains of her family, and as the heirs to Florence compete to reign Catherine finds that her life has taken a different turn from what she imagined, she is now the Cardinals political pawn, and he married her off to the second son of the King of France, Henri. After the death of the Henri’s brother and father, Catherine is now the Queen Consort of France, and she is surprised to find that she has actually fallen in love with her husband. Although things change when Henri takes a mistress, and he tells Catherine that he cannot love her back, we see Catherine’s connection to the dark arts growing deeper and deeper, and she could never imagine the ramifications it could hold for her children and her country. After the death of her husband we see that Catherine places herself as Queen ruling more-or-less for her crazed and incompetent son Charles. As the war between the Huguenots and the Catholics heat up Catherine realizes that the bloodshed is the payment required for her pact with the devil. Will Catherine do what is required to save her country?
I have read several historical fiction novels based upon the live of Catherine de Medici, and The Devil’s Queen by Jeanne Kalogridis is by far my favorite. Her portrayal of Catherine gave me goosebumps, she has taken this woman who in her time and even in ours has been thought of as dark, self-serving, and purely evil, and has made her seem more humanized. This is first time that I have read a book that made Catherine remorseful, so I enjoyed seeing a different side to this Machiavellian woman. The author also showed the circumstance from which Catherine came, and not only focused on her actions, but also the actions of those around her, which added a depth to the story.
I highly recommend this book.
Visit Angela Renee @ Renee's Reads