Spirit of Lost Angels, by Liza Perrat (paperback, 378 pages). 4 out of 5 stars. Victoire Charpentier is a poor village girl in 18th century France, struggling to survive with her family in a time when the gap between the haves and the have-nots is wider than ever and the marriage of King Louis XVI to Marie Antoinette fans the flames of a violent revolution. As tragedy strikes her family again and again, Victoire vows to find a way to rise above her impoverished roots and make a new life for herself. Along the way she clings to the angel talisman given to her by her mother, a symbol of hope and protection amidst the chaos of her life.
I love historical fiction, and this book held me tight from the first chapter. We first meet Victoire as a child in her tiny village of Lucie-sur-Vionne, where the rumors of revolution are just beginning to be heard. They mean little to Victoire until she sees her father murdered and her mother executed for witchcraft. Left with only her brother and forced to depend on the charity of the village, Victoire goes to Paris as a maid, determined to make her way up in the world and somehow avenge her family.
Her life in Paris becomes even more tumultuous, however, as her personal troubles and the rising waves of revolution coincide. Spirit of Lost Angels traces Victoire’s journey over the years, to Paris and back to Lucie-sur-Vionne and back again, as she fights to maintain her courage and her sanity in the face of hardship and horror.
This is an awesome debut novel, and apparently the first in a series, which makes me super-happy. The book moves at a very quick pace, so you never have a chance to get bored. At the same time, it’s very rich in detail. I felt like the time period was very well-researched and all of the characters felt very authentic. Victoire is an excellent heroine, spirited and colorful but not without her share of flaws, which I found really refreshing; I’ve read way too many books with heroines that are either unbelievably angelic or thoroughly, stupidly unlikeable.
Overall this was a great read and I’m definitely looking forward to more novels from Ms. Perrat! If you love books about France or historical fiction in general, I would recommend checking this out.