Fantastic tales of demons and the Evil Eye, magical incantations, and powerful attractions abound in Enchantress, a novel that weaves together Talmudic lore, ancient Jewish magic, and a timeless love story set in fourth-century Babylonia.
One of the most powerful practitioners of these mysterious arts is Rav Hisda’s daughter, whose innate awareness allows her to possess the skills men lack. With her husband, Rava–whose arcane knowledge of the secret Torah enables him to create a “man” out of earth and to resurrect another rabbi from death–the two brave an evil sorceress, Ashmedai the Demon King, and even the Angel of Death in their quest to safeguard their people, even while putting their romance at risk.
The author of the acclaimed Rashi’s Daughters series and the award-winning Rav Hisda’s Daughter: Apprentice has conjured literary magic in the land where “abracadabra” originated. Based on five years of research and populated with characters from the Talmud, Enchantress brings a pivotal era of Jewish and Christian history to life from the perspective of a courageous and passionate woman.
There were a few reasons that I wanted to review this book. First, and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a book cover snob, was the fantastic cover! Second, I’ve read Maggie Anton’s books previously and am a fan. Third, I’m very interested in Jewish history. The magic and love mixed in was just icing on the cake.
I was completely fascinated from the very first page. The realness of the characters pulled me quickly into their lives, keeping me happily enthralled in the sights, sounds, and tastes of an ancient land. I can’t even begin to imagine the research that must have gone into the book. With FIVE YEARS spent on investigating for this story, it’s easy to see how one can easily feel they are bystanders to the lives of Hisdadukh and Rava.
One thing I will say is that I’m very thankful for the glossary included in this book. There are a lot of Jewish terms and found myself referring to it often when I found myself getting confused. I wouldn’t say this is this an easy and quick book to read. It will take some concentration to keep things straight – or it least I found that so for myself. I also wish the book had been longer as I felt that too many years were packed into 400 pages.
*Thank you to Amy at HFVBT for asking me to be part of this tour*
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Maggie Anton was born Margaret Antonofsky in Los Angeles, California. Raised in a secular, socialist household, she reached adulthood with little knowledge of her Jewish religion. All that changed when David Parkhurst, who was to become her husband, entered her life, and they both discovered Judaism as adults. That was the start of a lifetime of Jewish education, synagogue involvement, and ritual observance. In 2006, Anton retired from being a clinical chemist in Kaiser Permanente’s Biochemical Genetics Laboratory to become a fulltime writer.
In the early 1990’s, Anton learned about a women’s Talmud class taught by Rachel Adler, now a professor at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. She became intrigued with the idea that Rashi, one of the greatest Jewish scholars ever, had no sons, only three daughters. Slowly but surely, she began to research the family and the time in which they lived. Much was written about Rashi, but almost nothing of the daughters, except their names and the names of their husbands. Legend has it that Rashi’s daughters were learned in a time when women were traditionally forbidden to study the sacred texts. These forgotten women seemed ripe for rediscovery, and the idea of a trilogy of historical novels about them was born.
After the success of “Rashi’s Daughters” Anton started researching the lives of women in 4th-century Babylonia, where the Talmud was being created. Surprised by the prevalence of sorcery among rabbinic families, she wrote “Rav Hisda’s Daughter: Bk 1 – Apprentice,” which was a 2012 National Jewish Book Award Fiction finalist and a Library Journal pick for Best Historical Fiction.
BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:
Tuesday, October 7
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, October 8
Review at A Dream Within a Dream
Thursday, October 8
Guest Post at Bookish
Friday, October 9
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, October 13
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Wednesday, October 15
Review at Based on a True Story
Thursday, October 16
Review at Mari Reads
Friday, October 17
Interview at Layered Pages
Wednesday, October 22
Guest Post at History From A Woman’s Perspective
Saturday, October 25
Review & Interview at A Cup of Tea & A Big Book
Monday, October 27
Review at TeacherWriter
Wednesday, October 29
Review at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, October 30
Review at Book Nerd