I applaud and give tribute to this courageous glance at history. Safe in the confines of our present, with eyes toward the most brilliant future, we imagine history to be long gone and out of our reach—or in this case, history’s gnarly hand unable to reach us.
On the other hand, Albert Einstein concluded in his later years that the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously. Three distinct periods of time, living and breathing in the same moment.
If this is true, I wonder: do we choose our place in time? Would anyone in their right minds choose life within the frame of the Spanish inquisition? In Sagrat, Spain? As with many time frames, luckily, much of their unraveling lies in the eyes of the beholder or the person doing the research. In this case, Petken delivers a well-researched anthology of anecdotes in order to influence her story.
Jana Petken introduces us to the world based on the life of David Sanz and his family. Conversos, in a time when Jews and Moors are persecuted for their religious beliefs while the Catholic Church rolls out its ugliest colors we follow David into the many circles of hell. The story files by quickly, with fast complications while a constant barrage of ungodly problems paints humanity in the vilest way possible. I would have enjoyed seeing some of the nicer threads that occur explored with the same verve and passion afforded the multifarious darker moments. After all, this was a time when a woman, Isabella 1 of Castile ruled as Queen. She successfully relieved Spain of the enormous debt caused by her predecessor and under her reign, crime dipped to an all-time low. Plus, she was the one who financed Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the New World. Material for another great book.