The opening of the story is the prelude to the excruciating finale, we then travel back 10 months to August 1863, Buda-Pest and a messenger, seeking the caravan of Imre the horse trader, his wife Mimi and their daughter Lenore. The messenger is from Anyeta, there’s been no news of her in Hungary for twenty years, yet now she’s camped four days away on the Romany border. What does the gypsy sorceress want, ‘a good death’ and to see her daughter, to tell her the secrets and the things inside the old woman that belong to her, to her daughter if she has one.
Mimi hates her Mother, a whore that dabbles in the dark arts, but inexplicably she is determined to make this last trip to see her and the family set out to return to a nightmare, where bad memories plague them all. When they arrive at the Gypsy camp, Anyeta has already died, murdered it seems but the sorceress is evil and determined to live on through others with her ultimate goal the body of a child, with little resistance, to live through and start again.
This is a dark, intelligently written supernatural tale, one of deception, of possession, seduction and illusion. An evil, powerful gypsy sorceress who can only be stopped by a barbaric process called Gentling, a way in which un-controllable horses are tempered but when the malicious entity reveals its goal with the words ‘I will wear your daughter like a bauble on a string around my neck’ there seems no escape.
The author explores the Gypsy culture very well but the strength of the novel is an emotional and poignant plot around some normal, simple characters encompassed by an evil that will take a great sacrifice to escape from and bring an overwhelming sadness.