The Secret People – Mesuline Draco

My interest in this book was two-fold: I’m incubating a book in which a character might need much of this information, and of course simple curiosity in this author’s take on the subject. It’s an utterly practical compilation of recipes and hints that do not require the reader to be a “parish pump witch” or wise woman. All you have to be is someone looking for natural solutions to common problems – looking for common sense and time-worn remedies. There are tidbits pulled from Mrs. Beeton’s book right alongside things that could be found in any decent grimoire.

There is a magical bent much to the information – a holly will balance the magical energies of a rowan or apple tree in your garden, for example – but there’s nothing airy-fairy about this book; advice like that feels more like feng shui. Even the section on divination feels more solid and straightforward than others I’ve seen.

I went into this expecting to harvest bits and pieces I could reference if my fantasy-eighteenth-century physician ever comes more to life. I came out of it with actual useful ideas for cleaning, for treating headaches and sore throats, for repelling pests, for celebrating Twelfth Night, and simply for being more aware of the seasons. “If a girl-friend has been having a run of misfortune, give her a bunch of carnations, or Gillyflowers, and this will turn her luck to good.” Carnations all around, I think …

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.

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