Time Early 1400's
At an early age (4 or 5 yrs. old) the ship her family had taken from England to Spain was captured by slave traders. From that early age until she is 17 years old, (h) Alexa Whittier and her mother have lived in the Moorish harem of the Sultan Abdul Hasan in Granada. Head strong, spoiled and pampered, Alexa dreams of the wonders of the mysterious outside world, refusing to quietly reconcile her fate to a life forever lived behind perfumed silk walls.
In chapter 1, Alexa's dream becomes a reality. Granada is under the siege to ethnic cleanse Spain by the army of the devout Catholic Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand.
As Hasan's household flees the city, Alexa is left behind as the harem is disposed of.
Before she leaves, her mother, the sultana, gives brief council to her beautiful daughter who is to be left to survive alone..."hide from the soldiers, there are none more cruel"..."never trust a man in the military...we are chattels to them, to be used and discarded"..."you will have no one to fully depend upon but yourself...trust no one"..."don't bestow yourself cheaply...you have knowledge of love...but there is an ugly side to love...the ugliness exists"...
With that, her mother departs, extracting a promise from an older woman from the harem to watch over her daughter and to help her to survive.
Head strong Alexa does survive the escape, by her wit and determination.
From the Black plague, to the court of Queen Isabella, into the arrogant dangerous arms of the Queen's general, Diego Cordoba (H), and lastly into the nightmare of the hands of the terrifying leader of the Spanish Inquisition, Tomas Torquemada.
Many parts of this story are not easy to read.
Early on I got fed up with Alex's immature selfishness.
Other characters brought tears to my eyes.
At times I felt I was thrown into the middle of a Vincent Price horror movie.
Reading Osborne's rendition of the nightmare of the Spanish Inquistion is terrifying and horrible. So reader beware.