Review: Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones

Goodreads summary: 

Margerit Sovitre did not expect to inherit the Baron Saveze’s fortunes—and even less his bodyguard. The formidable Barbara, of unknown parentage and tied to the barony for secretive reasons, is a feared duelist, capable of defending her charges with efficient, deadly force.

Equally perplexing is that while she is now a highly eligible heiress, Margerit did not also inherit the Saveze title, and the new baron eyes the fortunes he lost with open envy. Barbara, bitter that her servitude is to continue, may be the only force that stands between Margerit and the new Baron’s greed—and the ever deeper layers of intrigue that surround the ill-health of Alpennia’s prince and the divine power from rituals known only as The Mysteries of the Saints.

At first Margerit protests the need for Barbara’s services, but soon she cannot imagine sending Barbara away—for reasons of state and reasons of the heart.

Heather Rose Jones debuts with a sweeping story rich in intrigue and the clash of loyalties and love.

Review:

“Here was a mind and a curiosity that matched hers step for step.”

Daughter of Mystery is set in a fictional country in historical Europe, with magical elements. It is a gentle, clever read, with a sweet, slow f/f romance. Its protagonists’ fascination with unravelling the mysteries of their world through careful study and philosophical debate, their clear love of learning and reading, is a delight to read.

The magic system here is based on an adapted version of the Catholic structure of prayers and saints. When certain formula are followed – this candle here, these words like so – it is possible to perform miracles, or mysteries as they are called, as the saints did. Various historical scholars have dedicated themselves to the unravelling of these formulas in order to replicate mysteries and create new ones, but with varying degrees of success, and varying degrees of risk to their person.

Daughter of Mystery is a book which really, properly examines its magic system, and completely wonderful to read if you’re at all interested in the mechanics of a fantasy world. There are no easy answers here. Yet it does not forget its roots in historical fiction either, with recognisable and well-loved tropes such as chance meetings, issues of inheritance and propriety, and secret identities. There’s a marvellous eye for detail in everything from style of dress to archaic law in a way that even I, as a novice in historical fiction, was able to engage with and enjoy.

One of my favourite scenes was fairly early on, at the reading of the will, when we first truly see our heroines step out from under their guardians. Barbara and Margerit are both spectacular. Barely even friends (hehe), they already move instinctively to protect one another, a thread which proves significant through the rest of the novel.

This is everything I ever wanted. I love when I’m able to read about faith and queer characters at the same time without them automatically being enemies, and this is a rare and excellent example of that. Religion and magic function as one rather than competing ideologies. There are daring escapes, endlessly curious protagonists, and an exquisite romance full of care, compassion and agonising selflessness. This is a book that demands your attention, and rewards it. The ending made me want to cry, in the most exquisite and beautiful way. I loved it.

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Title: Daughter of Mystery
Author: Heather Rose Jones
Publisher: Bella Books
Publication date: 18th February 2014
Page count: 376
This book is eligible for Beat the Backlist 2018 and the Colour Coded Challenge.
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2 thoughts on “Review: Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones

  1. I do love a historical novel, especially one with some strong female leads, how unusual to have a female bodyguard too. And the additional of magic and religion that work in tandem rather than against each other. This sounds really intriguing, I don’t know the author but I’m tempted to look her up now – great review, thank you for sharing! x

    Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com

    Liked by 1 person

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