The Heron Legacy

A novel

Fiction - Literary
399 Pages
Reviewed on 06/27/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

The Heron Legacy by Leona Francombe revolves around Charles Fontaine, who is deeply connected to his past in the Belgian Ardennes, cherishes his uncle Theodore's teachings about their ancestral lands, including Blancheron Castle and its folklore, and has always been fascinated by the legend of Stephen de la Fontaine and Arda, a local girl turned heron after persecution. Almost two decades later when Theodore dies, Charles learns that there's more that ties their family history to the heron story, and that Theodore made prior discoveries in a Latin manuscript that imply a concealed ending to it. Now suspicious of his own pushy father's sudden desire to sell Blancheron, Charles is armed with Theodore's work and an ancient Byzantine key, urging him to continue the translation. Ready to protect Blancheron at any price, Charles wants nothing more than to uncover the truth hidden in the manuscript and the uncertainty surrounding Theodore's death.

Leona Francombe does a wonderful job of telling The Heron Legacy by pulling readers into the de la Fontaine family's blend of historical facts with local legends, creating depth and a near-instant allure. Theodore explains the dual nature of Arda’s story, both as a local legend and a historical figure persecuted for her pagan beliefs, and sets the reader up with the prophetic lines, “The past is alive, Charles. In you.” It's a toss-up for me who my favorite character beyond Charles is. On the one hand, we have Sylvana, a childhood friend of Charles' who is there to help in putting all the pieces together. She's smart and capable and, unlike Charles, has not been so easily swayed away from what appears clearly in front of her. Still, she has some relationships and motives that are questionable at best. On the other hand, we have a pet rabbit named Arnulf, who lives in the opulent home of parchment paper polyglot Cédric Florus, and Arnulf provides some comic relief. As far as mysteries that transcend time and folklore that resonates through generations, this is one of the more interesting stories published of late, and I have no doubt others will enjoy it as well. Recommended.