I absolutely love historical fiction and read a lot of it; I love to learn history this way. I also enjoy reading science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller and non-fiction science.
The village of Les Échelles is a quiet farming and mining town connected to the rest of the world by one bridge. Les Échelles has just recently recovered from the plague and it's widowed healer, Irene is just beginning to be recognized again by her neighbors after many of their families perished under her care. Irene works through the protection of the town's spirit, Zahara and has read her future with her tarot cards. Soon after the plague subsides an invader, Duke Dominico, ravages the town and kills their peaceful Count Girau. Many of the villagers are taken with Dominico's finery and promises of a gilded town. The Duke also brings along Durande who works as a healer as well as an alchemist. Durande holds many of Domenico's secrets. Irene befriends Durande and finds out that Domenico's fantasies are fueled by madness and he will soon tear their small town apart. Finding strength within herself and a little push from Zahara Irene must become the leader her town needs to form a resistance against the Duke.
The Peddler of Wisdom is an engaging historical fantasy combining life in a provencial French town with a little bit of magic and large dose of female-led resistance. I immediately fell in love with Irene's character, a healer who cares for everything including birds and snakes and does not seem to hold a grudge. The town of Les Échelles was absolutely charming and picturesque, through the writing I could envision the shops, the castle, Irene's farm and the countryside where Irene left offerings for Zahara. With the arrival of the Duke and Durande, Les Échelles is turned upside down. The Duke and Durande bring elements of danger, fear and magic, a deadly combination for anyone who gets in the Duke's way. With gruesome automata, fiery jinn, and people painted in gold, the Duke attempts to create his vision. Durande, a reluctant hand to the Duke brings Irene into his fold and provides the knowledge for Irene to turn on the Duke. I liked that the relationship between Durande and Irene was not a focus of the story, but their partnership was important for town and their freedom. I enjoyed seeing Irene's leadership grow and emerge among the town. She is the beginning of the resistance, a healer in more ways than one. Her wisdom, kindness and touch of magic within leads to a revolution that the Duke never saw coming. Overall, a unique historical fantasy that left me wanting more.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.