Lamia: 2a Witch

Georgia Taylor, Author Dutton Books $21.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-525-93745-6
Briskly paced and with solid historical grounding, Taylor's ( The Infidel ) gothic novel concerns Lamia, a 16th-century waif who survives her mother's burning at the stake and a perilous childhood in a Loire Valley forest to become the dreaded ``Red Witch of Nevers.'' Giles de Sade, riding to join his father, the overlord of the Nevers provence, saves Lamia from drowning. Charmed by the young girl, who's been living wild in the woods since her mother's death, Giles in time grows devoted to her, though he must marry another for family reasons. Meanwhile, Lamia is taken to live with Marco Cellini, an Italian cloth merchant who delves into witchcraft and alchemy. Although Marco is a family enemy of Giles, Lamia finds in him another champion. As Lamia grows into a free-spirited, lovely woman, a handsome deaf-mute Moor, Ghanim, who becomes her lover, teaches her mind control and how to feign death. Intrigue among the clergy, as well as graphically described torture and/or burning of suspected witches (`` `Turn the cranks,' the bishop cried. . . . `The Devil is on her tongue. Turn the cranks, I say!' '') punch up the narrative as Lamia furthers her plan to see that the evil Bishop Geoffroi, who ordered her mother's death by fire, should suffer the same fate. Loaded with period detail and colorful scenes, the novel races to a fiery denouement that leaves matters wide open for a sequel. Literary Guild selection . (June)
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
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