Born with a red mark emblazoned across her face, seventeen-year-old Madge is lonely as she spends her days serving guests and cleaning rooms in the inn her father keeps.
One day, she meets an unusual minstrel in the marketplace. Moved by the beauty of his song and the odd shape of his body, she realizes she has made her first friend. But he must go on to the next town, leaving her behind.
Soon after, while she herself is singing in the woods, she is startled by a chance meeting with a stranger there. Though the encounter leaves her horribly embarrassed, it proves she need not remain unnoticed and alone forever.
However, this new hope is shattered when she overhears a few quiet words that weren’t intended for her ears. Heartbroken and confused, she flees her home to join the minstrel and his companion, a crass juggler.
As they travel earning their daily bread, Madge secretly seeks to rid herself of the mark upon her cheek convinced that nothing else can heal her heart.
Set in England in 1681, With Face Aflame is the tale of a girl who risks everything in hopes of becoming the person she desperately wants to be.
I love it when a book surprises you, and this one did!
I have been in a bit of a reading slump, with a few books shelved on the DNF section of my Goodreads account, I’ve just not been ‘feeling it’ lately with my book selections. However, With Face Aflame grabbed my attention first with the title and cover, then the blurb drew me in further, and I eventually found myself racing through the pages unable to put the book down!
With Face Aflame is a quick read, as the book is fairly short at just over 200 pages, but so much is packed in. A true page-turner, effortless to read, I was absorbed and lost in the plot.
The characters are intriguing and work well together, the relationship Madge builds with Keaton is so sweet and encouraging. Madge learns something from each person she encounters, whether they are nice (such as Lady Lambie) or not (Mavis). She has an awakening of self, the world, and others. Through her journey she encounters a variety of people, many of whom have differences to the ‘norm’, she realises that most can be accepting of her, looking past the physical. Madge grows with confidence, not only in her singing ability but in herself.
With various elements throughout the plot of romance, religion, persecution, immigration, and more, there is so much to discover! It is a really interesting read. I would be intrigued to find out what happens next for Madge as the talented and attractive young woman she has come to be. Does she go travelling and singing again with Keaton? Does a romance establish with Yates? How does her father react to her new found confidence as she is ‘growing up’?
I intend to read the author’s other novels now as I enjoy their writing style so much.
Thank you so much to the author A.E. Walnofer and Zooloo’s book tours for the e-arc to review.
A.E. Walnofer spends weekdays mobilizing the soft tissue and synovial joints of patients, and weekends typing out stories that are incessantly brewing inside her head. There are lots of these tales and she hopes to share many more of them with you in the future.
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