Book Review: The Devil’s Blade

Mark Alder

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 2nd April 2020
spoilers? no


The story of Julie D’Aubigny is well known. Her tumultuous childhood, her powerful lovers, her celebrated voice. Connected to most of the nobility of 17th century Paris, feted for her performance, unwilling to live by the rules of her society, she took female lovers, fought duels with noblemen and fled from city to country and back again.

But now the real truth can be told. She also made a deal with the devil. He gave her no powers or help, but he kept her alive for only one reason. To take revenge…

Galley provided by publisher

CWs: gore, death, attempted rape, mentions of past statutory rape

The Devil’s Blade is a tale of a pact with the Devil (hence the title) and a tale of revenge. But it’s also vaguely satirical and irreverent. In short, the perfect mix.

The story purports to be the true beginnings of Julie d’Aubigny, a French opera singer known for her skill at fencing. When Julie is lured as a sacrifice to the Devil, and then left for dead when it goes wrong, she makes a pact with them herself. She will kill every one of the men who brought her there within the year, or her soul will be forfeit.

What I enjoyed about this book was that it focused on a woman getting revenge on the men who had wronged her. After the prologue, I was so invested in seeing her kill them all, and this book gave me what I wanted in that respect. I also appreciated the slightly satirical tone it took, because it made it clear that the men were not to be pitied as she did this.

The only problem was, the writing style got a bit tiring after a while. I don’t know what it was, but it started to feel a little forced and overdone. Not so much that I wholly stopped enjoying the book, but enough that it was noticeable. Almost as if it was trying to be too funny, in a way.

Add onto that the plot becoming repetitive (killing men is all well and good, but there wasn’t much more to it than, she kills this one, then she kills that one, now she kills that one), and you can see why I rated lower than I initially expected.

And then there’s the fact that Julie is sixteen. I tried to set it aside and take the book ignoring that, I really did. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t when the book sexualised her, I couldn’t when the book decided a couple of 40 year old men would fall in love with her. It just wasn’t possible. I mean, how hard would it be to just adjust her age ever so slightly, so she’s actually an adult?

Which is probably the main reason I couldn’t enjoy this book much more than I did.

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