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‘Daughter of Mystery: A Novel of Alpennia’ by Heather Rose Jones

‘Daughter of Mystery: A Novel of Alpennia’ by Heather Rose Jones

Author: Rita Salner

April 13, 2014

Daughter of Mystery: A Novel of Alpennia, is a wonderful book of intrigue and romance. Margerit Sovitre is an orphan who lives with her overbearing uncle, his wife, her sister, and their son. She is the god-daughter of Baron Saveze, a man who has ancestral lands and great wealth. 

Barbara is a swordswoman who was raised by the Baron and is his duelist. Alpennia has recently recovered from a war, and is much like a country set in the eighteenth century. The country is ruled by an elderly, ailing prince, and there is much speculation and gossip in the country as to who will succeed him.

Early in the story, the Baron dies, leaving his nephew, Estefen, the title of Baron, and the ancestral lands, while Margerit inherits the remainder of his properties, Barbara, and his money. Her inheritance makes Margerit a very eligible heiress, and causes her uncle and aunt to do their best, during the “season,” to find her an eligible mate. Margerit has always had visions, and what she wants to do more than anything is to study at the university in the capital, Rotenek. Using her new found power as an heiress, Margerit insists on moving, with Barbara and her spinster aunt, to the house she has inherited in Rotenek. Barbara is to go with Margerit as her protector. Barbara is worried about Estefen’s wrath at losing the Baron’s wealth, and his possible retaliation.

Margerit’s desire is to study religion and to develop an understanding of The Mysteries of the Saints. The mysteries are somewhat akin to what we now call miracles, and are related to Margerit’s visions.  She dives into her classes with enthusiasm, makes acquaintances, and is even invited to join a student guild, devoted to studying the mysteries. Barbara uses the time Margerit is in class to investigate her own personal history. She also uses the time to find rare books for Margerit, which they both study in the evening. As they spend more and more time together, feelings develop between the two women. All this changes when Margerit is accused of treason, and she and Barbara must leave the city.  Their journey across the country provides the two women the privacy they have needed to explore their feelings for each other.  It also takes them to an abbey where secrets from the past are revealed.

Arguments over succession to the throne, clearing Margerit’s name, and finding the plotters behind the charges complete this well written first novel. Jones has done a wonderful job in creating the world of Alpennia. She has created it’s society, politics, towns, and surrounding country. She has succeeded in making Alpennia a very real place for readers. She has also fully developed Margerit and Barbara. Each woman is complete with strengths, insecurities, brains and humor. They are both very likeable. Barbara, with her background as a swordswoman and a woman without a last name, is a unique character. Her looks and manner of dress, made her an “Eccentric,” someone the polite society of Alpennia did not know how to handle. Margerit, while acceptable in polite society, was also a scholar, and became quite knowledgeable about the Mysteries of the Saints. Her knowledge and skills also marked her as an “other.” Margerit and Barbara’s “otherness” makes them both very appealing to gay and lesbian readers. In addition to Margerit and Barbara, the other characters in this novel are also fully fleshed out. At almost 400 pages, and edited by the famed Katherine V. Forrest, Daughter of Mystery is a book of speculative fiction that’s not to be missed.



Daughter of Mystery: A Novel of Alpennia
By Heather Rose Jones
Bella Books
Paperback, 9781551525389, 384 pp.
January 2014

Rita Salner photo

About: Rita Salner

Rita Salner is a retired teacher, who has taught everything from preschool handicapped kids to teaching teachers how to integrate math and science. Salner taught for 42 years. Salner currently live in the high desert of CA. with her partner of almost 30 years. They enjoy life on a half acre with two dogs and three cats. Salner has been reviewing lesbian literature since she was recruited by Barbara Greer of the famed Naiad Press.

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