Category Archives: Miserere

Rabid Reads: "Miserere" by Teresa Frohock

Miserere: An Autumn Tale
by Teresa Frohock
Night Shade Books (2011)
280 pages
I’m not a reader who gravitates toward sword-and-sorcery type fantasy, but I’m always up for stepping outside my comfort zone. A good in-road for a guy like me is an element of horror, which in this case comes in the form of demonic possession.
Lucian Negru may be an exorcist, but if you’re expecting something akin to William Peter Blatty, you’re going to be disappointed. This is dark fantasy set in another world–aptly called Woerld–between Hell and Earth. A bastion that guards Heaven from all Hell quite literally breaking loose.
Lucian is a crippled, indentured servant to his sister, Catarina, who schemes to breach the barriers between Hell and Woerld in order to become one of Woerld’s rulers. Bound by an oath of loyalty, he’s betrayed his his mentor, his brothers-in-arms, and his true love, Rachel, literally abandoning her in Hell at Catarina’s behest. So when an opportunity shows itself for redemption, he takes it and flees his sister’s clutches to seek out Rachel and a chance at forgiveness. “Miserere” translates to “mercy” after all.
His chance at redemption comes in the form of a young girl, Lindsey, who has inadvertently stepped through a gateway known as a Veil from Earth into Woerld. His heroic actions come with a price though, and prompt his former comrades to seek his arrest, and Rachel is the one sent to pursue him. But Catarina has dispatched her own forces to find Lucian and drag him back to her, so he can fulfill his role in her evil schemes.
The book gets off to a bit of a slow start, but understandably for the characters and the stakes to be introduced. It was with the introduction of Lindsey that had me nervous for a moment though, because the stark shift from Lucien’s point of view in the medieval Woerld to Lindsey’s present-day Earth. Fortunately, the disparity in setting in brief, just to get Lindsey into Woerld and act as an initiate for readers to experience this strange land through her eyes.
The geography of Woerld was a bit murky for me as a read, but I’m thankful there wasn’t a ton of exposition, and the story focused on the characters. The story is told essentially through Lucien’s eyes, but passages focusing on Rachel, Catarina, and Lindsey offer great vantage points to see what is going on and how everything is interconnected among them and other characters.
The magic and supernatural elements of the story were dealt with in expert fashion, with what I thought was a unique use of prayer and meditation as a way to cast spells. The good guys summon magic from themselves, like an inner light–literally at times–while the villains must resort to using other means like amulets. Aside from a couple instances where Teresa seems to dwell on the minutia of the magic a bit long, she offers a great system for the fantastic to seem plausible.
The story as a whole feels like a stand-alone novel, but Teresa leaves just enough room for a continuation in a likely series of novels for readers who are left wanting more. But the ending is satisfying enough in its own right that readers reluctant to invest in one more fantasy series won’t feel cheated by loose strings at the end of the novel. Fantasy fans of every stripe should be charmed by this story, and those who tend to veer from this kind of story may want to give it a chance, because it’s far more accessible than what preconceptions might tell you.


Filed under book review, demons, exorcism, fantasy, Miserere, Rabid Reads, religion, Teresa Frohock

Guest Post by Teresa Frohock: Wicked Women Rule

As part of Teresa Frohock’s blog tour, I welcomed her to stop by and offer up a soapbox from which to proselytize her opinions. Enjoy. And after you’ve finished reading, she’s provided a ton of links for you to find more information on her and her work.

by Teresa Frohock

Chiaroscuro. I love the word. It is the artistic use of light and shade, and is generally used in reference to paintings and photographs, but the word can also be applied to what writers do with their villains. We contrast the wickedness of our antagonists against the good in our heroes.

I didn’t realize it until an interviewer asked me a question about my use of a female villain in Miserere, but there aren’t many real female villains out there. Oh, we used to have bad girls galore: Cleopatra in Freaks; Bette Davis as Jane Hudson in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane; Margaret White in Carrie—hell, just about all the women in Carrie had some kind of hang-up; O-Ren Ishii, but like Rose McGowan’s character Marique in the latest Conan, she doesn’t really count, because both characters were subordinates to the male villians (O-Ren Ishii to Bill and Marique to Khalar Zym).

So why don’t we have more women as villains?

Are we frightened of showing mean women?

Other women aren’t. Gillian Flynn isn’t afraid to strip away the lace and petticoats to show us evil women. She knows what I know (and what a lot of women like to deny) and that is: not all of us are good girls—not many of us are good girls.

And we grow up to be wicked women.

Many years ago, another woman advised me against having a female antagonist. Her reasoning was that men would use a female antagonist as an excuse to heap more abuse on women. I was astounded that she would think men were so stupid. I mean, there is a constant barrage of male antagonists out there, but no one is damning the entire male gender on the basis of Khalar Zym or Anton Chigurh. Most of us are intelligent enough to know the difference between reality and fantasy.

So it never occurred to me to make Catarina anything but female and violent. She uses sex as a weapon; it’s not about satisfaction, it’s about power. She is physically and verbally abusive—in many ways, she exhibits the personality of an addict. I could have made her male and given her all those attributes and no one would have blinked an eye.

Does that mean we expect that kind of behavior from men? Is that why we have no problem with male villains? Guys are born to be power hungry and driven—we expect violence from men?

Women are expected to be loving, maternal, and those expectations can work against a man. Aggression is the antithesis of making love, yet violence is intimate. The abuser knows they have succeeded by watching their victims. Success is evidenced with a wince, the tick of an eye, the twitch of a muscle.

There is no warning. Oftentimes, the victim doesn’t realize violence is coming until after it has happened. And when it comes from a woman, someone who is expected to be tender, loving, then the shock is two-fold.

I wanted to write about a woman outside of cute little Buffys-slaying-vampires, and she had to be an older woman, because evil becomes more poisoned with age. With Catarina, I wanted to move beyond our expectations of women. She never was a good girl and she has no excuse.

Some people are born evil.

Some of those evil people are women.

Wicked women rule.

Miserere: An Autumn Tale ( / July 1, 2011)

Exiled exorcist Lucian Negru deserted his lover in Hell in exchange for saving his sister
Catarina’s soul, but Catarina doesn’t want salvation. She wants Lucian to help her fulfill her dark covenant with the Fallen Angels by using his power to open the Hell Gates. Catarina intends to lead the Fallen’s hordes out of Hell and into the parallel dimension of Woerld, Heaven’s frontline of defense between Earth and Hell.

When Lucian refuses to help his sister, she imprisons and cripples him, but Lucian learns that Rachael, the lover he betrayed and abandoned in Hell, is dying from a demonic possession. Determined to rescue Rachael from the demon he unleashed on her soul, Lucian flees his sister, but Catarina’s wrath isn’t so easy to escape. In the end, she will force him once more to choose between losing Rachael or opening the Hell Gates so the Fallen’s hordes may overrun Earth, their last obstacle before reaching Heaven’s Gates.

Read the first four chapters of Miserere FREE here

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Raised in a small town, Teresa Frohock learned to escape to other worlds through the fiction collection of her local library. She eventually moved away from Reidsville and lived in Virginia and South Carolina before returning to North Carolina, where she currently resides with her husband and daughter.

Teresa has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.
Miserere: An Autumn Tale is her debut novel.

Teresa can be found most often at her blog and website
Every now and then, she heads over to Tumblr and sends out Dark Thoughts, links to movies and reviews that catch her eye. You can also follow Teresa on Twitter and join her author page on Facebook

All Things Books:

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Filed under guest post, Miserere, Teresa Frohock, women in horror