The Familiar – by Leigh Bardugo

Cover of Kindle edition

Madrid, late 16th Century. Luzia Cotado, a young woman of Jewish heritage, works as a scullion in a shabby house, using the few magic tricks she’s been taught to add some comfort – as well as some spark – to her bleak and miserable life. When her ambitious but perpetually frustrated mistress finds out about Luzia’s secret talent, she demands her to perform her little “miracles” in public, to liven up the otherwise dreadfully tedious suppers she hosts.

Luzia’s milagritos soon garner the notice of Antonio Pérez, the disgraced secretary to Spain’s king, who hopes to exploit her to regain the monarch’s favour: the king, in fact, is desperate for any advantage in the war against England, and is seeking for “miracle workers” who could help him in the task of defeating the heretic Queen.

Thus, Luzia is dragged into a dangerous tournament where she must compete against other milagreros, trying to impress the aristocracy with her talents while at the same time eschewing the suspicion that her powers may be not so holy after all. To train her and help her navigate the unfamiliar world she’s thrown into, her patrons enlist Guillén Santangel, a mysterious man of sickly but alluring beauty – who’s actually a cursed immortal familiar who’s trying to regain his freedom, but who, of course, ends up developing feelings for our plain-looking but still irresistible protagonist.


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