THE GODFORSAKEN by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
In 16th century Spain at the height of the Inquisition, the heir apparent, Don Rolon, pays for the sins of his father via a curse uttered while Rolon was still in his mother’s womb. At the height of each full moon, Rolon, despite his devotion to Church and country, secretly suffers the beast within. With his treacherous half-brother, estranged father/king, and the Inquisition all looming, the risk of discovery threatens not only Rolon but those who fight to protect him and his right to accession.
The most compelling characters here are Lugantes—the jester, and Rolon’s converso valet Ciro Eje. Rolon himself is fleshed out little beyond the single internal conflict. Yes, we’re on his side, but only because he has the support of the more fully realized players close to him.
The Godforsaken is the first Chelsea Quinn Yarbro standalone I’ve read, though I’ve long been a fan of her Saint-Germain series. The story starts off slow and a bit muddled, in part due to multiple names employed for several of the characters. There are abrupt point of view shifts and scene transitions throughout, making some backtracking necessary. Overall, the first two-thirds of the the book is a solid read, but it is the final third where the tension ratchets up and the story soars.
While the characters are fictional, the Spanish setting and terror of the Inquisition are not. Don’t expect your typical shapeshifter tale. The core of the story lies not with Don Rolon’s internal struggle, but with the recounting of the Inquisition, and the danger of handing power to men so blinded by faith, they are unable to see their own hypocrisy. An important lesson, particularly in the world we live in today.
This was a 3+ star read for me. It is certainly a cut above average, but because of the issues mentioned above, not a 4.
Recommended for fans of Yarbro’s unique blend of supernatural and historical fiction as well as for readers who appreciate political intrigue, detailed historical settings, and enjoy a twist of the paranormal.
Thanks to NetGalley and Open Road Media
for the opportunity to read and review this title.