Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Borderlands Press, Mar 2008, $16.95
In 1564 Spain is under the terror grip of the Grand Inquisition that sees no distinction between classes when it comes to destroying those marked by the devil. Even King Alonzo understands the reach of the Grand Inquisition as he himself indirectly fed its fervor with his anti-reformation. However, his son Don Alteza Rolon is cursed from birth with the lycanthropy disease. Though he detest his offspring as a monster, to keep his Infante Real heir safe, the monarch “exiles” him to El Morro in the mountains accompanied by court jester Lugantes.
When horrific deaths occur on the full moon over El Morro, a frightened Rolon assumes he is the culprit and begins seeking a cure for his ailment. Before he finds a remedy to his blood lust infliction, Alonzo calls him home as he is to wed the niece of the Doge of Venice in a political marriage to pampered hedonistic Zaretta Patrecipazio. To his shock, Rolon falls in love with his wife and has an even stronger reason to find the cure as he wants to avoid the heretic label and the pyre while also fearing for his playful spouse and their future offspring.
Although there is no St Germain in this thrilling werewolf historical tale, fans of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro will appreciate this timely extremely dark look at The Spanish Inquisition; especially the use of torture to obtain confessions under the guise of religious security. The victims almost always “validate” what the torturer demand they say making the story line feel apropos today (wonder if reincarnation exists?). The novel follows the adventures of Infante Real Don Rolon who might be the heir to the throne, but being a werewolf at this time in Spain marks him as heretic and if found out needing to be cleaned in the pyre; he and his loyal retinue like heroic dwarf Lugantes try to hide his illness. With a terrific final spin to accentuate the period, the audience will feel they are visiting mid sixteenth century Spain where the Grand Inquisition serves as judge, jury and executioner.