by Tobsha Learner

August 2005
ISBN: 0-765-31430-4
Reviewer Graphic Button Forge
Trade Paperback

Despite all the obstacles which stand against her, Ruth Bas Elazar Saul is a young Jewish mid-wife who goes out of her way to help anyone in need. It is her faith in God which sustains her at her lowest moments. All she wants to do is to continue living through her quest for knowledge; this is an especially hard task when as a woman she is expected to know her role and as a Jew, she is expected to know her place.

But now, Ruth is being approached by the likes of an evil she has never imagined, the Inquisitor, the Monsignor Carlos Vicente Solitario, a man who is even feared by those above him. Years ago, Ruth’s mother shunned Carlos’ advances and ruined his name. The Monsignor, under the disguise of a government witch hunt, is back to finish destroying the Navarro family. Once he has killed Ruth, his revenge will be complete.

The only person standing between him and his quest for vengeance is a young nobleman, Detlef von Tennen, one of the archbishop’s cousins. For years, Detlef has led a life that even surprises him, walking as a man of the cloth but having an intellectual hunger for things the church and his family denounces. He is intrigued by Ruth, and from the moment the two meet, their lives are instantly linked and forever changed by their love. It is a love that not even their deaths can alter.

Tobsha Learner’s The Witch of Cologne is a poignant historical drama that will captivate readers with its richly painted story line. With remarkable accuracy, Learner vividly describes an often hidden dark side of what historians refer to as the Age of Enlightenment. It is a view that may startle many, but it is one that must be seen. Learner makes it so much more tolerable by skillfully blending history and engaging fiction.

Although the novel is somewhat lengthy, the interesting lives of the multi-dimensional characters make the story flow briskly. As far as baddies go, Monsignor Carlos will definitely rank as one of the most revolting villains in history, but a man of such venom can only inspire deep emotion from anyone who turns the pages of the book. When he finally gets his due, readers will be leaping with joy. But even though Monsignor Carlos gives the word vile a new meaning, it is the gentle Ruth who steals reader's hearts with her strength and faith. She is definitely a woman for all seasons.

Reviewed in July 2005 by Natasha.

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