Monday, June 25, 2018

Book Review: With Face Aflame by A.E. Walnofer

A Perilous Journey of Self-Discovery in 17-Century England

Madge, the seventeen-year-old protagonist of With Face Aflame, lived in humiliation, ashamed of the red birthmark that covered one side of her face.  Working in her father’s inn in 17-century England, she received little to shape her self-image beyond the stares, the gasps, and in some cases, the ridicule of their customers.  But when circumstances forced her hand, she joins a minstrel she just met and his crass friend, tagging along in search of a miracle.  The rest of the tale is one of discovery…and danger.

The story is told from Madge’s perspective, a large portion of it being her inner thoughts.  Walnofer uses the technique well, as the reader hears Madge’s inner voice as she debates some of life’s greatest mysteries, as well as the meaning of even the simplest of acts – the look of a stranger, the feel of a hand on her back, the kiss of a child.  Those inner struggles and reversals perhaps become a bit overused toward the end, but overall, we come to know Madge quite well.  And she’s a worthwhile person to know – intelligent, caring, funny, growing.

Much of the book involves the daily life of an inn keeper or that of a minstrel, traveling town to town, singing for supper.  And while that may sound slow, the pacing of events and the novelty of the lifestyles easily held my interest.  Additionally, there is an underling tension to her story.  Her world is one built on superstition and religious intolerance, where women are wenches, little more than a man’s possession.  Would her father’s warnings about the ways of men and some simple self-defense see her through?

Overall, With Face Aflame boasts a heroine well worth knowing in a finely crafted story of self-discovery.  It’s well worth the read.

See on Amazon:

No comments :

Post a Comment