The First Vial

by Linnea Heinrichs
347 pages,
ISBN: 1894345843

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First Novels
by W.P. Kinsella

I couldn't, nor could a second reader, discover any significance in the title. The cover exhibits a frightening painting by Peter Brueghel the Elder that will not generate much goodwill toward the novel. This is a genre novel, a bodice-ripper with no ripped bodices-not the kind of book that a small press usually produces. However, it is very readable, and appears well researched. Set during the plague of Black Death in the 1300s, the novel has a feminist twist that seems very unlikely for the times. Lady Katherine of Grenfield Castle, after her husband is murdered by a slimy priest, pits her wiles against the priest for control of her lands and money. A property not far away is owned by a Lord Victor, a handsome and honorable man, who is unfortunately engaged to a rather passionless girl. We know that Lady Katherine and Lord Victor will eventually come together, but there are many obstacles in their way: the fiancee, the nasty priest, the Black death. There are many close calls and some moderately savage goings-on. I'm reminded of the end of Pretty Woman where the heroine "rescues him right back". A pleasant little read, but forgotten in seconds.

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