Throwback Thursday: THE SILVER DEVIL by Teresa Denys

This week I went with a controversial historical romance novel, often characterized as a bodice ripper – because, yes, it’s very old – by Teresa Denys. Ms. Denys wrote only two historical romance novels, The Silver Devil (which is this week’s pick) and The Flesh and the Devil, and both novels are  difficult to find. I found a copy of The Silver Devil a few years ago at a used book store, but if you try to buy a print copy these days it’ll cost you about $50 for a used paperback in Canada- a high asking price indeed.

Amid the gilded opulence and dark intrigue of Renaissance Italy grew a love that knew no bounds….

No woman’s heart is safe from the Silver Devil. From the moment he sees the beautiful Felicia, he must have her. Overnight he changes Felicia’s nightmare world of tavern drudgery into an erotic adventure as his royal mistress. He is the Duke of Cabria who holds his subjects in constant fear. He is troubled. He is ruthless. And Felicia is hopelessly in love with him – though at times he seems like the devil incarnate.…

I’ve always considered The Silver Devil more than just a romance novel. Set in Renaissance Italy, its very different from the norm. The entire novel is written in first person in the heroine, Felicia’s perspective, and while she does focus on her dangerous and romantic relationship with the Duke – Domenico – she also describes the corruption of the Italian court in detail and her own place in this new world. Felicia is an uneducated eighteen year old, and she’s plucked from her life with her half-brother and sister-in-law and thrown into a new one as the Duke’s (really equivalent to King’s) mistress. The Duke apparently finds her beautiful enough for the new role, though Felicia claims that other women at court are far more beautiful than her. For me, The Silver Devil was as much a novel of court intrigue and politics as it was about romance.

On the other hand, the first person perspective was very limiting at times. The reader stays with Felicia through the events that unfold, but we don’t get much insight into Domenico at all. We’re forced to make assumptions – which may be correct – but we don’t get the thought process in Domenico’s mind and he comes across as evil. Felicia describes him as a spoiled child, which is as accurate a description as you can get for a man who would execute another for simply being taller than him. Likewise, he is very jealous. Insanely so. He has a man tortured because he thinks Felicia’s falling in love with him.

I found this novel a very dark read…and yet, oddly amusing. Felicia does go through a character arc and comes out stronger in the end, but along the way her naivete is painfully clear. On the flip side, Domenico is very cynical and distrusting throughout.

But, I really found this an interesting read. It was beautifully, almost poetically written, and despite the controversial subject matter – rape, torture, etc – it was still a believable (and imaginative) representation of life in the Renaissance.

What “controversial” bodice rippers are you in love with?

Rika Ashton

(aka Renaissance Time Traveler)

P.S: Here’s another, very detailed, review of the novel in case you’re interested and not afraid of spoilers.

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2 responses

  1. Jennifer @ Feminist Fairytale Reviews

    I’ve never heard of this author, but it sounds really interesting. The Renaissance Italy setting also intrigues me. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    October 31, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    • It is! This book is very unique. The author has passed away after writing only two books. I’ve been trying to get a hold of her second novel, THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL, for a while but it very hard to find a copy for a decent price.

      Like

      October 31, 2014 at 5:44 pm

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