The world of 16th-century Spain is a place where the Inquisition holds sway and autos-da-fé (the public burning of heretics) happen rather often. Sister Ernestine is a bereaved widow who recently took the veil. After playing a part in her late husband’s downfall and execution, she tries to live a life of sincere repentance. As she comes to St. Francis Abbey, she seeks to give secret documents to her brother-in-law, who cannot be found. While at the abbey, Sister Ernestine comes face-to-face with a French spy who is determined to steal the secret documents which are more dangerous than she could have ever anticipated. With everything on the line, can she make it out alive?
In this exceptionally well-written novel, we are drawn into the dangers of a suspicious and bygone age. It seems like Sister Ernestine has everything going against her, and Kate Reynolds brings this earlier century to life. One thing I loved about this book was the richness of the characterization and dialogue. The characters really leap off the page, especially as I was swept into the struggle and intrigue of Ernestine’s world. The elements of mystery and secrecy kept me hooked. This is such a fun, fast-paced novel. My favorite aspect was the cultural and linguistic nuances; the Spanish and Latin dialogue adds depth to the richness of the setting. Overall, it is obvious that Reynolds did a great deal of research, and she writes a compelling tale.