God of Power, Lord, suppose it pleases you,
Make my comrade welcome, and grant him all your aid.
For him I have not seen since fell the night's dark shade,
and soon will come the dawn.
~ from a twelfth century poem by Guirault de Bornheil
I would like to announce the release of my new novel The Night's Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars. One of the first reviews is by Christine of Laudem Gloriae, who says:
Elena Maria Vidal, author of Trianon, Madame Royale and, most recently, The Night's Dark Shade, has a gift for writing beautifully while transporting one into past times and places and keeping one's attention riveted as if there oneself.Thank you, Christine!
In the 13th century, Catharism–"The Great Heresy"–had swept through Languedoc, France and gained a stronghold, its adherents of noble and common stock alike. The problem was so serious the Catholic Church had instituted a crusade against the heretics, who had drawn numbers of the faithful away by their esoteric teachings. Louis VIII, crowned in 1223, would lead the crusade, reclaiming Aquitaine and much of the southern territories and leaving to his heir, St. Louis IX, a Capetian reign that extended from England to the Mediterranean.
In the midst of this medieval landscape, enter the maiden Raphaëlle de Miramande, vicomtesse, protagonist of The Night's Dark Shade, who, bereft of her father as well as her betrothed, both killed fighting alongside King Louis "the Lion" in the crusade, fears an unclear future. The Knights Hospitaller of St. John, that august military order whose members numbered the fiercest warriors against the Saracens, play a prominent part in this novel. Without giving away two much, two knights in particular represent opposite poles in young Raphaëlle's moral life–on the one hand, duty, obligation, and fidelity, and on the other, passion and temptation....
The Night's Dark Shade will be a book kept on the shelves of our family library, and will be mandatory reading for my little ones once they've gotten a bit older. Elena Maria Vidal has been gifted with an eye for historical detail, an energetic imagination, an elegant writing style, and a keen and informed faith, all of which blend attractively together in this her latest work.
Author Stephanie Mann has also composed an insightful review. The following is an excerpt:
Historical fiction is a fascinating genre because when done well it reveals truths about both the past and the present. It allows us to experience both what was unique to the era of its setting while recognizing what is universal in our humanity.Thank you, Stephanie!
The Night’s Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars represents historical fiction done well, particularly when revealing the dangers of the Cathar movement in the 13th century and holding up a mirror to the 21st.
By telling the story of Raphaelle de Miramande’s encounter with a castle occupied by Cathars, especially with the Perfecta who may become the young heiress’ mother-in-law, Elena Maria Vidal bravely dramatizes the consequences of Cathar teaching. I say bravely because the Cathars or Albigensians are very often depicted as heroes for their opposition to the Catholic Church or as victims for their suffering in the Albigensian crusades against them in southern France—perhaps because their admirers sympathize with their sexual ethics and their Gnostic elitism....
Highly recommended for historical fiction buffs of any age for its plot, characterizations and often eloquently descriptive prose, The Night’s Dark Shade is particularly suited to young readers. Anyone who enjoys the genre, however, will revel in their escape into the world of 13th century southern France.
The Night's Dark Shade can be purchased HERE, and will soon be on Amazon as well. Signed copies of the book are currently available directly from me.