It is the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, and a Queen of Shadows rules in secret over Paris.
So great is the power of La Voisin that even the king's mistress, Madame de Montespan, is dosing her royal lover with the sorceress queen's aphrodisiacs. Ladies of the highest fashion frequent the "fortune tellers" of her secret society to purchase abortions, luck charms, and poisons as easily as they might order a new gown.
Into this world of brilliant debauch and evil enters a dazzling and mysterious figure, the Marquise de Morville. She is rumored to be over one hundred and fifty years old, with powers to read the future in the swirling waters of her oracle glass.
In fact she is Genevieve Pasquier, a precocious, crippled adolescent girl with genuine prophetic powers, abandoned by her family and taken up and trained by La Voisin, the Shadow Queen, to enter the very highest court circles. Shrewd, witty, and observant, Genevieve carries off her role as an ancient prophetess with flair, even though her heart is torn with a young girl's emotions.
But just as she is on the verge of discovering true love, the Chief of Police in Paris, Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie, is on the verge of discovering La Voisin's network of poisoners and sorcerers. Can Genevieve escape the stake? Who will live and who will die in the wake of the king's terrible vengeance?
A true-crime story with a touch of the occult, set in 17th century Paris
"Chilly, witty, and completely engrossing. With a cheerful skewering (historically grounded) of the sheer, cretinous awfulness of the Sun King's satellites, plenty of skittery action, and a wisp of the supernatural. Great, good fun." Kirkus Reviews
"...a remarkable tour de force and a compelling read." Jean M. Auel
"It's like opening a bottle of magic elixir, out comes a swirl of scent and sound and sight, and in a flash, you are drinking deep of a brew of love and poison...." Diana Gabaldon