The Queen’s Prophet
The Queen’s Prophet by Dawn Patitucci is a surprising work of historical fiction. Instead of using Queen Mariana of Spain herself as the focus of her novel, the author instead uses the character of Maribarbola, royal dwarfess, to examine the queen’s life and struggles as well as those in her household.
After the death of her patroness, the Countess of Walther, Maria-Barbara’s life is thrown into chaos. Where she lived a life of comfort and intellectual stimulation with the Countess, she suddenly finds herself sleeping on the floor of the horse stable. Deciding not to wait for a place to be found for her, she strikes out on her own and falls in with a magician who, in turn, deceives her and sells her to the Spanish Queen. Maribarbola must use her wits, and her false prophecies, to keep her new patrons happy and a roof over her head.
Patitucci masterfully builds a compelling narrative around a seemingly minor servant. What sets this author apart from many other historical fiction writers is that she clearly did very careful research to prop up her fictional accounts. The sufferings and triumphs of the queen and her dwarfess are believable, and I found myself unable to put the book down on many a night. Kudos to Patitucci on her first foray into historical fiction!
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