Author: Maggie Anton
Genre: historical fiction
Series: Rav Hisda's Daughter #2
Published: September 2 2014
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Fantastic tales of demons and the Evil Eye, magical incantations, and powerful attractions abound in Enchantress, a novel that weaves together Talmudic lore, ancient Jewish magic, and a timeless love story set in fourth-century Babylonia.
One of the most powerful practitioners of these mysterious arts is Rav Hisda’s daughter, whose innate awareness allows her to possess the skills men lack. With her husband, Rava--whose arcane knowledge of the secret Torah enables him to create a "man” out of earth and to resurrect another rabbi from death--the two brave an evil sorceress, Ashmedai the Demon King, and even the Angel of Death in their quest to safeguard their people, even while putting their romance at risk.
The author of the acclaimed Rashi’s Daughters series and the award-winning Rav Hisda’s Daughter: Apprentice has conjured literary magic in the land where "abracadabra” originated. Based on five years of research and populated with characters from the Talmud, Enchantress brings a pivotal era of Jewish and Christian history to life from the perspective of a courageous and passionate woman.
Maggie Anton's latest novel Enchantress is a deeply detailed and researched story that neatly ties reimagined history with well-crafted and pious characters. It's also the second novel in the Rav Hisda's daughter series, with the first book, Apprentice, dealing with the earlier years of main character Hisdadukh's life. It can read rather slowly, but this more religiously-inclined novel was memorable and different. The narration is direct and dry, but Anton's storytelling is effective and natural for Dodi's perspective.
I was interested in both the characters and the magical realism of the story for Enchantress, but entering into the series midway made it hard to fully understand either. Starting with the second novel is theoretically possible, but not recommended due to the sheer detail and background the reader will miss out on. There's an entire book of Rava and Hisdadukh and Rami's personal lives (voiced in her thoughts) that I don't know enough about to fully appreciate here in the second novel.
I liked this novel but couldn't personally connect with enough of the story's aspects to love it. I wasn't the hugest fan of the way the climax of the novel, but thought the ending was handled well and authentically. I was interested especially in learning more about the lore of the magic for the witches, but never felt fully shown. For me, it was a mixed bag with Enchantress, but it was interesting to read about a different era and people and from a distinct and original POV.