- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 17, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0449910067
- ISBN-13: 978-0449910061
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 274 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,584,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Oracle Glass: A Novel Paperback – October 17, 1995
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he pages, and out comes a whiff of brimstone, as The Oracle Glass transports you to the Paris of kings and witches, on a guided tour of corruption, love, and sorcery."
Seventeenth-century Paris. Geneviève is a skinny, precocious girl with a mind full of philosophy and the remarkable power to read the swirling waters of an oracle glass. Left for dead by her family, she is taken in by the ingenious occultist La Voisin, who rules a secret society of witches that manipulates the rich and the scandalous all the way up to the throne. Tutored by La Voisin, Geneviève creates a new identity for herself--as the mysterious Madame de Morville, rumored to be one hundred fifty years old.
Soon, even the reigning mistress of the Sun King himself consults Madame de Morville on what the future holds for her. And as Madame de Morville, Geneviève can revel in what women are usually denied--power, an independent income, and the opportunity to speak her mind. But bene
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The setting, the level of scholarship and research, the clothing (stunning; I am really into textiles) and the characters made any plot lapses or other issues immaterial to me. In terms of spookiness, the book was nowhere near as creepy as Anne Rice's works, which I am unable to read (just too scary). But the crazy thing about the characters and events in the Oracle Glass is that they are real and true (with the exception of Genevieve and her household). Witches and poisoners all did a brisk business during the reign of Louis XIV, and fell as quickly as they rose to power. There was a sense of feminism in the book, definitely, and I appreciated the way this secret network of women looked after one another. The element of fierce intelligence, shown in both Genevieve and her lover D'Urbec, was quite fascinating to me. I appreciated the many allusions to classic voices of reason and the evolution of the notion of free will. I'll definitely be looking for more of Riley's work.
By Judith Merkle Riley
What a shame this talented writer was only with us long enough to write six books! Apparently she only began writing after retirement, which should be a lesson to us all not to sit on our dreams. This is a historical novel taking place in France during the reign of Louis the 14th, the notorious “Sun King”. The inquisition was dead, and the period was rampant with occult societies, among whom was a society of poisoners. With no forensic science to prove poison was used to bring about a death, it was a popular remedy to get rid of someone you didn’t like.
Genevieve, the heroine of this story is a crippled girl who is rescued by LaVoison, the Shadow Queen Of Paris. Genevieve’s father and grandmother were poisoned by family members. The family has fallen on hard times after the fathers fall from grace, and they want to know where he hid his money. Genevieve was his favorite child and her mother and uncle think she knows where it is. After her uncle rapes her, she runs away and is found by LaVoisen as she is working up the nerve to throw herself into the Seine.
Genevieve has a talent that is valuable to the occult society ruled by the Shadow Queen: she can see the future in the surface of a pool of water. She is taken in and trained to be a fortune teller to the rich and famous of the city (for a price of course).
As always, a Riley heroine has a quirky way of looking at things, and much is implied if you can read between the lines. The authors historical research is dead on, as usual. The hero is interesting here because although readers are given hints as to what he does, Riley never actually comes out and says what it is, the inference is he has ties to factions that inevitably lead to the downfall of the Bourbons.
After the death of the 2 people in the world who actually believed in a better life for little Genevieve she is left so broken and hurt that she seeks only death but she is approached by a woman she met years ago, a woman that promises Genevieve what she wants most in the world: revenge. Her benefactor is none other than the Queen of Shadows: La Voisin who learned of Genevieve's skill for reading water when she was brought to her years ago by her mother. For the first time in her life Genevieve learns that she can be desirable and powerful if she plays her cards right but it doesn't take her long to realize, she doesn't even know what game she's really playing. Through her youthful naiveté and hunger for revenge she sees that she has become a key player in of the most dangerous games in Paris, one that includes deceit, murder, lies, and rituals. Worst of all, she can't possibly escape now that she's a member and one wrong move will send her to her grave. Now she must use her cleverness and wit to stay alive but Genevieve also decides to help herself along the way.
When I started reading this book I was so drawn into the storyline and characters that it didn't seem even remotely possible that any of it was true. It wasn't until I decided to look up what exactly a Black Mass was that I realized that many of the incredible events in the book actually took place. I have since come to the conclusion that 17th century France was certainly very interesting but also a bit too scary for my tastes. The story is very well crafted and the characters definitely come to life. I could easily put myself into Genevieve's place through the story and felt that same fears and frustrations that she must have.
There were parts in the story that very slightly confusing however. There are point when the story shifts from the 1st person telling from the eyes of our protagonist to the 3rd person telling of the story from the perspective of the police. At one point Degrez was seducing Marquise de Brinvillier and I have to say I had to reread that chapter several times because I was confused. The simply referred to her as the Marquise but as the protagonist herself is referred to by the same title I thought at first he was seducing Genevieve.
Overall it's a thoroughly enjoyable (slightly disturbing) read and best of all, many of the events in the book actually took place. You will root for the main character, you will curse her enemies, you will weep for joy at her happiness, you will cringe at her troubles. Highly recommended.