My summer of medieval retellings has led me to reading lots of Arthuriana and a fair bit of Robin Hood-inspired stories, but surprisingly little about Joan of Arc. So I was very keen to give Jaime Lee Moyer’s Divine Heretic a go, especially given that her Brightfall, a Robin Hood retelling crossed with the Fae, was one of my favourite takes on that source material.
Many thanks to Jo Fletcher Books and Netgalley for providing me with an eARC of Divine Heretic in exchange for an honest review.
—– Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault —–
RELEASE DATE: 20/08/20
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
SUMMARY: Jeanne d’Arc was only five when three angels and saints first came to her. Shrouded by a halo of heavenly light, she believed their claim to be holy. The Archangel Michael and Saint Margaret told her she was the foretold Warrior Maid of Lorraine, fated to free France and put a king upon his throne.
Saint Catherine made her promise to obey their commands and embrace her destiny; the three saints would guide her every step. Jeanne bound herself to these creatures without knowing what she’d done. As she got older, Jeanne grew to mistrust and fear the voices, and they didn’t hesitate to punish her cruelly for disobedience. She quickly learned that their cherished prophecy was more important than the girl expected to make it come true.
Jeanne is only a shepherd’s daughter, not the Warrior Maid of the prophecy, but she is stubborn and rebellious, and finds ways to avoid doing – and being – what these creatures want. Resistance has a terrifying price, but Jeanne is determined to fight for the life she wants.
But when the cost grows too high, Jeanne will risk everything to save her brother, her one true friend and the man she loves. (from Jo Fletcher Books)
OPINIONS: This is Joan of Arc as you have not read her before. A girl with a mind of her own, agency, and doubting the voices in her head as she lives her life. Full of surprising twists and subversion of the legend as it is traditionally told, Jaime Lee Moyer manages to make the story truly her own with Divine Heretic. You might think you know the plot, but trust me, this is a different story, using characters and elements, but weaving it into a new tapestry worth discovering for itself.
Jeanne is a nuanced character, full of life in a well-crafted world. Ethan, Pierre and Sarah, the other main characters are just as interesting and it is refreshing that religion is only important in the more abstract sense. Yes, Jeanne hears voices, but she is not a zealot. And that is probably the most important thing to know going into Divine Heretic. It is not a novel about a religious warrior. It is a book about a young woman figuring out who she is and what her place in the world and the war going on is. She just happens to hear voices, and these voices claim to be saints and an archangel.