Elizabeth Cunningham,
Bright Dark Madonna
(Monkfish, 2009)

This book is a sequel to the well-received The Passion of Mary Magdalen and is part of The Maeve Chronicles depicting the Celtic Mary Magdalen. The novel is classed as religious fantasy/historical fiction -- and it is a fascinating read.

In some ways this is a logical outcome of the thesis put forward in books like The DaVinci Code. Maeve is the lady who gave rise to that story, but was only alluded to in general explanatory terms in such books. Here she takes center stage, and what a stage it is.

You will believe that you are travelling with her as she moves from Jerusalem to Ephesus and then on to southern France. The sights and sounds of an era are captured for you to release as you frantically turn the pages.

As with all great fiction, there are conundrums and half-truths based on fact, and these add spice to the tale.

The story brings to life the words and people we are so seemingly familiar with from gospels and the letters of the apostles such as the Galatians. But Cunningham adds extra dimensions, such as the offspring of Jesus and the Temple of Magdalen.

Sara is a child who seeks answers and in her quest she will bring the reader to many questions. Not all will -- or can -- answered but the journey will thrill and enthral.

Ideally read after the original book, this novel can stand alone and fulfill your reading needs -- but be warned, after reading it you will seek out the first book and long for a sequel.

review by
Nicky Rossiter

3 April 2010

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