Synopses & Reviews
The final adventure in the beloved and bestselling Margaret of Ashbury trilogy, which began with A Vision of Light
and In Pursuit of the Green Lion
Margaret of Ashbury is ready to settle down; the medieval healer is looking forward to an uneventful life in the country. And, indeed, life with her true love and a brood of rambunctious children is nearly perfect—except for her husband Gregorys ever-meddling family. Finding himself deep in debt once again, Gregorys father has plotted to sell Margarets daughter off in marriage to save his woodlands from a greedy abbot. In a panic, Margaret turns to her old friend Brother Malachi to help save her daughter by whatever means necessary. The tension within the feuding family rouses an ancient being that dwells in a spring at the center of the disputed woodland. The watery creature has its own plans, and its eye is on Margarets infant son.
Favorite characters return, the stakes are high, and the air is thick with intrigue and danger. Written with the historical accuracy, supernatural plot twists, and humor that Rileys readers have grown to love, The Water Devil is a high-spirited adventure that brings Margarets odyssey to a satisfying conclusion.
Returning to England after rescuing her husband, Gregory, from his French captors, Margaret turns to old friend Brother Malechi to help her save her young daughter from an unwanted marriage brokered by Gregory's meddling father, a situation complicated when warring factions rouse an ancient being that dwells in a spring at the heart of a disputed forest. Original. 20,000 first printing.
Having rescued her husband Gregory from captivity in France, Margaret looks forward to an uneventful life in the English countryside. But Gregory's meddling family, a greedy abbot, and an ancient, supernatural creature that's been roused from a spring in the center of a disputed woodland dash Margaret's hope in this final book of Riley's trilogy.
About the Author
JUDITH MERKLE RILEY is a professor of political science and has a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She is also the bestselling author of A Vision of Light and In Pursuit of the Green Lion, the first two novels in the Margaret of Ashbury trilogy.
Reading Group Guide
A mysterious pond in the woods that terrifies and intrigues; a lady possessed by devils; an alchemist who conjures items from the past to help secure the future . . . Judith Merkle Rileys The Water Devil contains many fascinating themes that are perfect for discussion. This guide is designed to help direct your reading groups conversation about this last novel in Rileys mystical Margaret of Ashbury trilogy.
1. “When you think of wars and high talk, Margaret, remember its all really a matter of money” (page 4). Talk about the role of wealth (and lack thereof) in the novel. How important is money in The Water Devil
2. Margaret, Brother Malachi, and Mother Hilde all inhabit a spiritual world that is in juxtaposition with organized religion-what did you think of this, and how do you think the two ways of life are compatible?
3. Consider Margarets special gift of healing powers. After Lady Petronilla kidnaps young Peregrine and throws him into the pond, Margaret and the boy nearly drown as Margaret attempts to pull him from the water, and Peregrine hovers near death for days afterward. Why wasnt Margaret able to employ her skills to help her son?
4. What did you think of Sir Hubert? Did your opinion of him change as you read The Water Devil? What did you think Madame Agathe found attractive about him?
5. Margaret speaks with God, who tells her, “Margaret, for every person who prays for love and peace, there are a half-dozen who pray for war and glory” (page 14). Why would God say such a thing?
6. Sir Roger, the town priest, muses to himself, “Rumors of diabolical pleasure, supernatural beings, succubuses hot with desire-matters were getting out of control. The pond thing would debauch the entire parish if something were not done, and soon” (page 62). Discuss the roles of Christianity, superstition, and pre-Christian paganism in The Water Devil. Why were the townspeople so fascinated by and fearful of the pond and the spirit that inhabited it? Who were some of the characters who werent afraid of the pond and its occupant? Why werent they scared?
7. Discuss Gilberts near-death experience (pages 25-28). How does this experience change him?
8. At the behest of Gilbert, with wary approval from Margaret, their daughters Alison and Cecily are taught the ways of becoming a “gentlelady” by Madame Agathe. What is Madames definition of a “lady?” Which character in the novel best fits it?
9. Discuss Lady Petronilla. Was she truly insane, or was there a method to her madness? If the latter, what do you think she was trying to gain by pretending to be possessed by devils?
10. In Chapter 7 (pages 60-64), Hugh the swineherd encounters the succubus and is seduced by her. Did you think there really was a succubus, or did you realize it was Lady Petronilla? Hugo speaks longingly of encountering a succubus, and attempts to do so: “They say theres a succubus off at the pond. Im off to hunt her up” (page 143). For such a dangerous creature, why did men in The Water Devil find a succubus so appealing?Discuss Lady Petronilla. Was she truly insane, or was there a method to her madness? If the latter, what do you think she was trying to gain by pretending to be possessed by devils?
11. What did you think of Brother Malachi and his practice of alchemy? Did you think the scheme he concocted to help Sir Hubert regain his land would work?
12. There are many memorable, even eccentric, characters in The Water Devil. Who do you think were some of the most interesting? Why?
13. The Water Devil offers many plot twists, especially near its conclusion. Which ones took you by surprise? Why? Were there any that you predicted? If so, what were some clues?