The Rebel Princess

Written by Judith Koll Healey
Review by Troy Reed

Healey (The Canterbury Papers/The Lost Letters of Aquitaine) brings readers the second installment of the story of Princess Alaïs Capet, sister to King Philippe Auguste of France. Set in 1207, the tale begins as the court of King Philippe is awash in conspiracies. Alaïs’s aunt, the dowager countess Constance of Toulouse, is acting secretive, the king does not know which of his ministers he can trust, and two monks dispatched by the pope in hopes of persuading the king to support stamping out the Cathars, a Christian sect in the south of France, arrive at court. King Philippe turns to his beloved sister Alaïs for advice. Alaïs vows to help her brother and uncover the mischief at court. What she really longs to do though is finally reunite with and settle down with her lover, William of Caen, and reveal to Williams’ ward, Francis, that she is his mother. The plot deepens when the St. John’s Cup, a relic sacred to the Cathars, is stolen. Following the cup’s disappearance, Constance is absent from court, and Francis is kidnapped. Alaïs takes matters into her own hands and devises a way to search for her son, risking her life and rebelling against William’s explicit instructions to stay at court.

The Rebel Princess is a fast-paced historical mystery with plenty of suspense and intrigue. With every turn of the page there was the threat of bloodshed due to the rising conflict between the bishops and the Cathars. Healey does a fantastic job rendering the touching story of the intense bond between Alaïs and her son. Equally compelling is the exploration of Alaïs’s regret over the harsh parting words between her and William. I am looking forward to more in this series and hope that the love story between William and Alaïs unfolds even more. A very enjoyable read.