Review: The Familiar - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo comes a spellbinding novel set in the Spanish Golden Age.

In a shabby house, on a shabby street, in the new capital of Madrid, Luzia Cotado uses scraps of magic to get through her days of endless toil as a scullion. But when her scheming mistress discovers the lump of a servant cowering in the kitchen is actually hiding a talent for little miracles, she demands Luzia use those gifts to improve the family’s social position.

What begins as simple amusement for the nobility takes a perilous turn when Luzia garners the notice of Antonio Pérez, the disgraced secretary to Spain’s king. Still reeling from the defeat of his armada, the king is desperate for any advantage in the war against England’s heretic queen―and Pérez will stop at nothing to regain the king’s favor.

Determined to seize this one chance to better her fortunes, Luzia plunges into a world of seers and alchemists, holy men and hucksters, where the lines between magic, science, and fraud are never certain. But as her notoriety grows, so does the danger that her Jewish blood will doom her to the Inquisition’s wrath. She will have to use every bit of her wit and will to survive―even if that means enlisting the help of Guillén Santángel, an embittered immortal familiar whose own secrets could prove deadly for them both.

Book Type:

Historical Fantasy

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Review: The Familiar
By Leigh Bardugo

Review: The Familiar

In 16th-century Madrid, a scullion’s “milagritos” land her in a dangerous tournament set to deliver either a more promising future or doom her to the Inquisition’s clutches.     

Luzia Cotado toils in the kitchen of a struggling couple desperate for a more favorable social position. One day, Luzia is caught using menial magic to unburn bread. Her employer sees this as the perfect opportunity to use her talent for small miracles to rise among the nobility. But when Luzia catches the eye of the ambitious and disgraced secretary to Spain’s king, Antonio Pérez, the plan takes a more precarious turn. 

Soon, Luzia is under the tutelage of the notorious and secretive Guillén Santángel, whose equally sinister patron demands he train Luzia to compete in a magical tournament. Through this process, she finds herself thrust into a perilous world of the power-hungry elite, seers and racketeers, and those who aim to change their fortune. Perhaps more dangerous yet is Luzia’s growing feelings for Santángel, which may get them both killed before the torneo’s end.  

With THE FAMILIAR, Leigh Bardugo delivers an intricately imagined standalone fantasy, replete with themes of power, ambition, trust, betrayal, and love.  Bardugo’s prowess at lush storytelling and meticulous, exacting worldbuilding vivifies Spain’s fascinating ‘Siglo de Oro.’ I loved the richly drawn characters, her use of language in the narrative, and the unforeseen twists woven through the dark undercurrent of the story. As with all stories I tend to love the most, I relished in the synthesis of history and fiction with a measured dose of wit and magic to make it all the more interesting.  

Taut, propulsive, and deeply imaginative, it was impossible to put this down. 

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