Wonderful, dark work from the Australian writer.
In the plague-ridden countryside is Charlotte, who has buried three children, and now lost her husband to plague.
She takes her remaining child, Nicolas, out of her village – the only place she’s ever known – in the hope she can keep him safe.
But in the forest she is attacked and nearly killed, her son taken by thieves with the darkest of intent. Near death, she encounters the Forest Queen, a witch who has lived there, in one form or another, for centuries.
Charlotte has a choice, but she will do whatever she must to get back her son. On her quest she collects Lesage, recently released from a galley hell-hole with a mission of his own, and together they head into the maelstrom of Paris.
Womersley’s book is dark and sometimes brutal, hovering between the magical and real worlds.
The tale – born of real people and real events – is quite a change of pace for Melbourne-based Womersley, who has deservedly won a swag of awards for his writing.
This book was published in August 2017. This review was first published in the Herald Sun’s Weekend magazine.