“The old gods may be great, but they are neither kind nor merciful. . . If you insist on calling them, take heed: be careful what you ask for, be willing to pay the price . . . And no matter how desperate or dire, never pray to gods that answer after dark.
July 29, 1714 should have been a joyful day for Adeline LaRue. It was her wedding day. The day most women in her Catholic based faith community accepted freely. The day girls all trained for under the tutelage of their mothers. But Adeline was different. She was that child that wanted to see over the next hill looking for adventure. As she matured, she wanted freedom to explore the world at large not trapped to a life of hard work on the farm with no individual freedoms under the thumb of a husband.
She idolized the freedom held by the old woman who lived alone in the woods. The old woman taught her that there were ancient gods that came before organized religion but worshiping them was dangerous. Adeline listened carefully when the old woman told her, “If you are going to pray to the old gods, you must sacrifice something precious to you. If they choose to answer, be ready to pay the price they demand and never pray to night gods!“
When Adeline was twenty-four-years old, her father, unwell and looking out for her future care, arranged a Catholic marriage to a widower. She had successfully averted suitors in the past, she believed because she had prayed in her mind to the Ancients for help. Thus, distraught, she raced to the woods to the place the strange old woman told her she could find the ancient gods. This was her last chance to avoid an unwanted marriage. She lost track of time in her desperation and failed to notice the sun had set.
The sounds in the forest stilled as though time had frozen. Then strange winds swirled, a sound called out her name, and the image of her imaginative perfect man appeared before her.
What do you want ? I want a chance to live. I want to be free. I want more time. How much time? When he doesn’t get an answer, he declines to help. My deals have endings and your request has none.
She pleads. I will do anything. He responds, My dealings have a price. The price is your soul. The ancient gods are wily! Adeline cries out – You want an ending? Then take my life when I am done with it. You can have my soul when I don’t want it anymore. He smugly replies. DONE!
Adeline rushes back to her village convinced she had outsmarted the devil. She becomes terrified by the physical reaction she receives from her parents. Who or what is this frantic creature that seems to have appeared out of no where? Her childless parents are terrified by this creature who insists she is their daughter. She is chased away.
Adeline’s story will be laborious to readers that cannot connect to her character. Others, intrigued with fantasy and magical realism will be willing to follow Addie as she adjusts to her fate over a three-hundred years. The story alternates with her past and places her in the present (2014). The scenes with Luc, the devil, are very interesting as he pops up now and then to disrupt Addie’s life hoping to knock her off her game, weaken her determination to make a life for herself.
My favorite sections of the book are the final chapters where the story takes an interesting twist, concluding with an ending the reader won’t see coming. Reviewing this book has been difficult. I have written and destroyed several versions. I finally decided the fact I just couldn’t stop trying to tell her story without giving away the suspense led me to giving it four stars. Well written and thought provoking.
Thanks you, Netgalley and Tor Publishing for the advanced reader’s copy in exchange for review and my honest opinion.