The Water Devil
Riley completes her Margaret of Ashbury trilogy (A Vision of Light and In Pursuit of the Green Lion being the earlier installments) in this frolicking novel set in 1362 that melds history with the supernatural. Margaret has rescued her true love from France in a most unladylike way. When Margaret, Gilbert and their rambunctious children return to England to resume their normal lives, Gilbert’s father comes to them to bail him out of debt or he will lose his woodlands – including an ancient spring – to a greedy abbot. When they refuse, he threatens to sell Margaret’s oldest child, Cecily, into marriage against her will. Only Margaret’s friend, Brother Malachi, has the ability to get these folks out of harm’s way and save the family.
This novel is easily read as a “stand-alone.” Although there is some relation back to the earlier installments, it isn’t a terrible problem if you haven’t read them. Margaret is a genuinely likeable, wise and loving woman, a tender and intuitive mother and a loving wife. The fact that she has a gift of healing is secondary to the plot. Margaret’s children are wonderful creations; the character of Madame Agathe is formidable, and Margaret’s in-laws are so despicable that you love to hate them. A fun read.