Book Review: Lucifer’s Mistress
Reviewed by Jadidsa Perez
A seedy, dark novel that transports readers to the gallows of Boston with hidden treasure and forbidden love
Lucifer’s Mistress is K.Z. Owen’s debut historical fiction novel exploring the gamut of the highly religious society in Boston at the end of the 17th century. The novel does not just depict their version of Christianity but also more spiritual and holistic beliefs and how conflict would arise due to differing ideologies. While the novel is an ensemble of perspectives, the story mainly follows Isaac Hill, who is hired to lure away Elizabeth Parker, an accused witch, from her home before an expedition can come to take her to trial.
Edward Sharpe, the catalyst for the accusation, will stop at nothing to prove the existence of witches, starting with Elizabeth. By discarding spectral evidence, the trial will instead focus on using science as a method to prove a witch’s power. As Isaac becomes entangled with Elizabeth, he is unable to forget about Felicity, his former lover in Boston. Spirituality, religion, and theocracy are all at odds to either prove the damning power of the Devil or accept the flawed nature of humanity.
Another aspect of the novel is the ways in which the apotheosized “New World” was a symptom of capitalistic greed that led to the destruction of Native lives and land and is no better than the European countries that the settlers left behind.
I was completely wrapped into this story. The prose is incredibly descriptive, ornate without being overly so, and beautiful. There are different narratives that make the book fun to navigate, especially since what happens to some characters is a mystery throughout. The author also masterfully creates both passive and overt tension throughout the text and balances them well. For example, there’s an angry argument between Isaac and Edward Sharpe that leads to a passive-aggressive dinner where there’s a lot of silent judgment and observations.
There’s a lot of internal and external reflection from the characters about sin, lust, and the consequences of straying from religion. Isaac in particular has some extremely profound and interesting thoughts that could be a story all on their own. He has a much more progressive attitude than Sharpe, but also admits to being just as traditional when it comes to women. Trying to figure out his past is a terrifying, intriguing rabbit hole that eventually leads the reader to a shocking realization of how troubled he really is.
There’s a great balance of in-depth research and creative liberties here. I would strongly recommend readers to check out the afterword, which includes sources and explanations to some aspects of the book. Lucifer’s Mistress is a hidden gem among historical novels and well-worth a read.
*This book includes sexual assault, incest, and graphic language about Native Americans. I would recommend it to historical fiction lovers who are aware of these additions to the text
Genre: Historical Fiction
Print Length: 372 pages
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