Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Poisoning Angel - Jean Teulé

The Poisoning Angel
Jean Teulé; Melanie Florence (translator)
Gallic, Jul 14 2015, $15.95
ISBN 9781908313683

As Napoleon runs over the continent; back in Brittany Anne Jégado warns her curious seven year old daughter Hélène not to touch the poisonous Thunderflower; the cause of split tongues and other similar ailments.  Following that lecture, her mom begins calling her Thunderflower even as she regales her child with tales of Death’s obedient servant Ankou, the remover of the dead.

Though still a little girl Hélène dedicates her life to Death.  She tests the use of poisoning by placing lethal belladonna berries in her sister’s soup, but her first attempt fails when her mom intercedes.  However, inadvertently Anne also educates her daughter on how to conceal poison in food.  Over the next five decades in many different households employed as a cook, Anne leaves behind a trail of dead including her sister who failed to escape her second poisoning.

This dark biographical fiction of a real nineteenth century poisoner grips the audience with a macabre fascination for the increasing professionalism and creativeness of the lead.  Filled with witty asides and insights, readers will enjoy Jean Teulé’s latest; as no author turns real people and historical incidents into wickedly brilliant comedic graveyard dramas better than him (see The Hurlyburly’s Husband, The Suicide Shop and Eat Him if You Like).

Harriet Klausner

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