Thursday, July 19, 2018

"Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge"

Lisa Jensen is the author of the novels Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge, Alias Hook, and The Witch From the Sea, proprietress of the entertainment blog, Lisa Jensen Online Express, and longtime film critic for the alt weekly, Good Times, in Santa Cruz, CA.

Jensen applied the Page 69 Test to Beast and reported the following:
From page 69:
I know the wisewoman's strange powers. Surely, she will serve him some reprimand for his cruelty!

But she shrugs deeper into her cloak. "As you wish." She sighs, and turns away. We all watch her creaky progress as she heads for the trees and the wood far beyond, keeping clear of the place where the snarling hounds are held in check.

"Crone," mutters the grand Chevalier de Beaumont. "Witch!" There is something more than impatience in his voice. Could it be fear?

He bends over his agitated dog, petting and stroking. "Quiet there, Zeus. Good boy. Easy, now," he soothes, softening his voice, drawing deep breaths. He might as well be speaking to himself. Then he looks around to see his gatekeeper trotting toward him, alerted perhaps by one of the other servants.

"Andre!" the chevalier shouts. "How did that damned insolent hag get on my property?"

"Hag?" echoes the gatekeeper, mystified. "But ... I saw no such person, monsieur le chevalier — "

"If you can't do your job, I'll find someone who can!" roars the chevalier. "Get your things and go!" And before poor Andre can utter another word in his own defense, the chevalier is marching back for the park with his hound at his heels.

But my heart is sinking. I let Mère Sophie beguile my wits, but she has no more power against him than I have.
This turns out to be a pivotal scene in my book! My heroine, Lucie, the narrator, is a serving girl who has suffered at the hands of her master, the handsome but cruel young Chevalier de Beaumont, lord of the estate. The mysterious old wisewoman from the wood, Mère Sophie, has promised to become Lucie's ally in her quest for revenge.

This is the first encounter between the wisewoman and the chevalier: the old woman crossing his property on foot politely asks the young lord for a drink of water from his well, and is roughly turned away. This scene is useful, on one hand, because it underscores the chevalier's capacity for thoughtless cruelty, which is second-nature to him.

But it's disappointing for Lucie (and the reader) who is expecting some sort of magical reckoning to repay the chevalier's wickedness. Lucie has witnessed some of the astonishing enchantments Mère Sophie is capable of, back in her snug little cottage in the wood, and Lucie fervently hopes the wisewoman will unleash some of the dark forces at her command to punish the chevalier.

Alas, it is not to be — not on page 69, anyway. But fear not! By page 79, Mère Sophie's magical powers are put to spectacular use, in ways that change everyone's lives forever!
Visit Lisa Jensen's website.

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--Marshal Zeringue