Having loved Blood Countess, I was so excited for Poison Priestess! I am all here for sapphic historical fictions with a bit of danger and intrigue. While I definitely enjoyed Blood Countess more, Poison Priestess was a book that examined female ambition and the rise, and fall, of power. Keep reading this book review to see my full thoughts.
In 17th-century Paris, 19-year-old Catherine Monvoisin is a well-heeled jeweler’s wife with a peculiar taste for the arcane. She lives a comfortable life, far removed from a childhood of abject destitution—until her kind spendthrift of a husband lands them both in debt. Hell-bent on avoiding a return to poverty, Catherine must rely on her prophetic visions and the grimoire gifted to her by a talented diviner to reinvent herself as a sorceress. With the help of the grifter Marie Bosse, Catherine divines fortunes in the IIle de la Citee—home to sorcerers and scoundrels.
There she encounters the Marquise de Montespan, a stunning noblewoman. When the Marquise becomes Louis XIV’s royal mistress with Catherine’s help, her ascension catapults Catherine to notoriety. Catherine takes easily to her glittering new life as the Sorceress La Voisin, pitting the depraved noblesse against one other to her advantage. The stakes soar ever higher when her path crosses with that of a young magician. A charged rivalry between sorceress and magician leads to Black Masses, tangled deceptions, and grisly murder—and sets Catherine on a collision course that threatens her own life.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Poison Priestess is driven by ambition, but at the same time Catherine’s story is very much a search for security. It’s a quick read that explores toxic friendships and the rise, and fall, of powerful women. My favorite elements were the historical fiction vibes, the magical world building, and Catherine’s ambition. I am here for all the queer historical fiction. Just so you know. While I feel like there wasn’t enough character development for Catherine in Poison Priestess, I enjoyed reading her story. A world where she serves at the whims of others. It’s truly a story about playing with fire, the consequences of being close to the flames.
I found her desire to be secure, to not have to worry, deeply empathetic, while also being able to see the ways in which she still desires power. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I feel like we see power hungry male characters and think nothing of it. But as soon as it’s a girl, it seems to offend some people’s sensibilities. In a world that seeks to dismiss women, train girls to diminish their talents, and is quick to tear them down, the ambition of girls should be fostered. Sometimes we just need a push, a reason to climb, for us to bring ourselves.
Poison Priestess is definitely a different vibe than Blood Countess, but it is an engaging and action packed read. I may have wanted more depth in Catherine, as well as the ending feeling a tad hasty, but I enjoyed the story and love this series premise. Find Poison Priestess on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.