In Cesarine, the city is policed by the Chasseurs whose motto is Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Captain Reid Diggory is the star of the Chasseurs and the favorite of the Archbishop. Louise le Blanc is a witch on the run from her past. She took sanctuary in the city when turned 16 and has since been suppressing her magic. When she and Reid unintentionally cross paths, it starts a fierce antagonistic relationship. During a cunningly staged scene, Louise forces the Chasseurs hands and the archbishop declares she must marry Reid. Lou takes this opportunity to hide from a dangerous secret of her past.
The setting of 17th century France was so rich. I absolutely loved the atmosphere and the french-esque vocabulary. The hierarchy and the structure of the Chasseurs was very well developed. As for the witches, I wished we had more about their culture. But there was a lot of world building that featured their pagan beliefs and customs so I was pretty happy with that. I definitely got several Throne of Glass vibes when some of the witch traditions were being described, but I think it’s just a witch commonality lol.
I loved Lou, especially in the beginning. Cesarine has very traditional and patriarchal views on how women should behave. Lou takes every opportunity to spit on them. She has a dirty mouth and sings bawdy tavern songs. I loved how fiercely she stood up for herself and how she acts to Reid. It was amazing. I did feel like she lost some of that fierce spark by the end of the book, but hopefully we’ll see it again!
Reid was a bit harder for me to like/empathize with. I wasn’t a fan of the teachings of the Archbishop or the Chasseurs, but it was interesting to see how narrow-mindedness on the side of religion and the witches was paralleled. He had a really amazing story arc and some of the best character development I’ve seen this year. He reminds me a lot of Lord Chaol Westfall and I mean that in the best way possible.
The huge conflict of this story is of course the Witches vs. the Witch Killers (AKA Chasseurs). I loved that both sides were capable of evil. Neither side was perfect or the “good” guys. Near the end, the monarchy/the King is also brought into this conflict and it filled the book with so much tension. I was not ready for the end at all. There were several reveals that I guessed, but overall it was such an amazing story.