Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones. ★★★★
I was reading a book that was super dark and heavy, and I realized that I needed something lighter instead. Scrolling through my Kindle, I found Daughter of Mystery. It seemed like it’d be just perfect for the moment. And it was.
Daughter of Mystery is a historical fantasy novel with a romance between two women. Margerit Sovitre is an orphan girl whose guardians are anxious to see marry well, even though she has no wish to marry. Her future changes for ever when her wealthy godfather, Baron Saveze, decides to leave his entire fortune to her. However, his bequest comes with a stipulation — Margerit must take on the services of Barbara, a young woman who served as his bodyguard and duelist. Margerit’s new wealth puts a target on her, and she’ll need Barbara by her side. Meanwhile, Barbara starts attempting to unravel the mystery of her parentage and the secrets Baron Saveze was keeping from her.
My big concern with Daughter of Mystery is that I tend not to like romance, and this looks like it would be heavy on romance. Just look at that cover! Thankfully, this proved not to be an issue. While the burgeoning relationship between Margerit and Barbara isn’t insubstantial, it’s not the only thing happening of the book. Daughter of Mystery compares fairly well to some of the other historical fantasy novels I’ve enjoyed, such as Sorcerer to the Crown.
And I actually did like the romance this time. Possibly it helps that it was f/f, but I also liked both of the characters involved. It could have easily ventured into some iffy territory re: power differential, but it mostly avoided it. Also, there was no sex, which is good for my bookish tastes.
At this point, you might be wondering what are the fantasy elements in Daughter of Mystery. The answer is, they’re the mysteries referred to in the title. In the world Heather Rose Jones has created, miracles are a common part of daily life. People petition saints for miracles, and sometimes they are answered. But there’s an almost scientific underpinning to it — what saints do you invoke? With what language? It’s sort of like building formulas to produce miracles, and it’s fascinating. Margerit has always had a knack for getting the ear of the saints, but she’s just starting to realize her full potential and create miracles of her own.
The story is well written and felt appropriate to the time period. I enjoyed the political intrigue and the mystery of Barbara’s parentage. Even if I did figure out some of the plot points fairly quickly, Daughter of Mystery left me with plenty of twists I didn’t foresee. I fully intend on reading the sequel.