Boleyn Curse

Fiction - Time Travel
338 Pages
Reviewed on 12/20/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

Strange things are starting to happen to Ellie Bowlan in Boleyn Curse by Deborah Cohen. And it all begins with her Ph.D. comprehensive exam and the cryptic assignment, “Anne Boleyn. Woman or Witch?”. Ellie is following in her father’s footsteps, a historian at heart. Her studies and research have led to this monumental day in her life, the day when she is given the arduous comprehensive exam question. It is a ‘do or die’ scenario: she either succeeds in her research to successfully defend her position in answering the question, or she’s kicked out of the Ph.D. program. Things develop from this assignment, events that become more bizarre as the plot thickens. And the parallel story, the one set in the sixteenth century that documents a young Anne Boleyn and her studies in witchcraft that lead to a family curse, somehow connects to Ellie in the twenty-first century. Is Ellie Bowlan related to Anne Boleyn? And are the unprecedented and tragic deaths of Ellie’s family members (her parents and grandmother included) a result of this family curse?

Murder, mystery, fantasy, and witchcraft spanning several centuries all come together to make Deborah Cohen’s novel, Boleyn Curse, an intense read. The author has done her research and knows her history well. Anne’s part of the story, set in early sixteenth-century France during the reign of King Louis XII, sets her as a witch-in-training. She befriends that much-maligned king’s daughter, Claude, as well as the famous Leonardo da Vinci, who spent considerable time at the French court creating fantastic works of art as well as continuing with his scientific experiments. As Anne learns her witchcraft in the sixteenth century, Ellie unravels Anne’s past to resolve her exam question, and in the process learns of her own talents in the craft of witches. It might all seem very bizarre, except the narrative is very plausible and cleverly constructed. The two time periods mold into one plot with ease and the characters are developed with great tenacity. This is a powerful story that will have readers challenging the facts of history and wondering, ‘what if’.