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The Water Devil: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel

1 rating: 4.0
A book by Judith Merkle Riley

The final adventure in the beloved and bestselling Margaret of Ashbury trilogy, which began with A Vision of Light and In Pursuit of the Green Lion.      Margaret of Ashbury is ready to settle down; the medieval healer is looking … see full wiki

Author: Judith Merkle Riley
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Date Published: January 23, 2007
1 review about The Water Devil: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel

"Far from the bloody ground, the green water bubbled mindlessly."

  • Feb 27, 2009
  • by

The latest Lady Margaret of Ashford novel is painted on a smaller canvas, the story set in the household of her father-in-law, Brokesford Manor in 1362. The Sieur de Vilers, not uncommonly, is beset by debts, desperate to avoid selling off pieces of his land, the family legacy. At issue in this legal battle is a lush woodland with a spring that reputedly includes a demonic water spirit. The era still mired in ancient ritual and superstitions, the water spirit is much feared, the locals hoping to appease a greedy malcontent that requires periodic sacrifices from the villagers, one of which will ultimately be Lady Margaret's young son. Wife of Gilbert de Vilers, youngest son of Hubert de Vilers, Margaret has recently had her share of adventures abroad, settling happily into her London home with her red-haired daughters from a previous marriage and young son Peregrine de Vilers. Now the sanctity of Margaret's home is threatened by her father-in-law's injudicious financial commitments, the senior de Vilers casting desperately about for a source of income to defend the contested woods on his estate.

With their crops threatened and living conditions nearly unbearable, the villagers are slowly reverting to the old ways, invoking ancient gods for protection, delivering offerings to the spring. Rather than put her debt-free home up for surety against a loan, Margaret introduces Hubert de Vilers to the alchemist, Brother Malachi, who creates an impressive forgery of an ancient deed that will hopefully sway the magistrate in the de Vilers' favor. In order to plant the evidence, Gilbert's family must visit Brokesford Manor, where they encounter all means of trouble, not the least of which is the increasingly unpredictable moods of Lady Petronilla, Hugh de Viler's wife. Convincing everyone she is with child, Hugo's wife is behaving erratically, paranoid and hateful toward sister-in-law Margaret, who so far has borne the only de Vilers heir. Equally disturbing is the villager's appetite to appease the water spirit, Margaret's daughters willing partners with them at a dangerous time in church affair, the Inquisition looming.

From her prior novels, we know that Margaret possess the gift of healing and a second sight about the motivations of those in the lord's household, most notably the evil intentions of Petronilla toward Gilbert's family. Certainly, there are confusions enough for all to deal with, including a history of pagan sacrifices, a colorful exorcism and a magistrate who can be bought with a promise of his son's marriage to Margaret's daughter, Cecily. Throughout her travails, with Gilbert at her side, Margaret overcomes all with her usual tenacity and forgiving spirit, winning over even the dour Madame who has contracted to subdue the barbaric manners of the girls. Cognizant of the religious and political upheavals that define the era, Margaret protects her family from assaults on all fronts with the vigor of a lioness. Luan Gaines.

The Water Devil

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