The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley
Fawcett Columbine, 1st printing, 1995
Genre: historical fiction, fantasy, romance
Synopsis & Review: Born ugly and crippled, Genevieve Pasquier is abandoned to a crèche by her mother, only to be rescued five years later by her father, who had been told that she’d died at birth. Precocious and thoughtful, Genevieve is reviled by her mother and doted upon by her philosophy-reading father, who tutors her in the Stoics and logic. Both Genevieve and her older sister Marie-Angelique grow up sheltered in the House of the Marmousets, gazing out upon Paris while they read Roman philosophy and romance novels, respectively. When her beloved father dies suddenly, Genevieve’s mother locks her up and interrogates her about a mysterious fortune overseas, but knowing nothing of it, Genevieve cannot provide any answers, and is beaten and abused until she wishes to die. Fleeing her home, Genevieve is preparing to throw herself into the Seine when her soon-to-be benefactress, the mysterious La Voisin, stops her. La Voisin is willing to take Genevieve under her wing, granting her safety and revenge, for Genevieve possesses a rare and marvelous talent, the ability to read the future in water.
Under La Voisin’s tutelage, Genevieve is transformed into the mysterious Marquise de Morville, a beautiful hundred and fifty year old widow, and in Louis XIV’s France, fortune-telling, alchemy, and diabolism are all the rage, consulted by Frances finest men and women. La Voisin is Queen of Paris’ occult underworld, sponsoring occultists, abortionists, and poisoners amid the burgeoning scandal of the Affair of the Poisons, and Genevieve becomes deeply enmeshed in her world. While the nobility cavorts and occultists to a roaring trade in aphrodisiacs and inheritance powders, Police Chief de la Reynie and his Inspector Desgrez hound the Marquise de Brinvilliers through Europe before turning their eyes on homeward. Rising in power from La Voisin’s web, Genevieve struggles to find her own identity and happiness in the realms of the Sun King and the Shadow Queen. click here for more about The Oracle Glass