Book Review: Voltaire’s Calligrapher by Pablo De Santis

Title: Voltaire’s Calligrapher
Author: Pablo De Santis
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: October 5, 2010
Paperback: 160 pages
ISBN: 978-0061479885
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

From the Publisher:

Dalessius is twenty when he comes to work for one of the Enlightenment’s most famous minds, the author and philosopher Voltaire. As the great man’s calligrapher, Dalessius becomes witness to many wonders—and finds himself in the middle of a secret battle between the malevolent remnants of the all-but-dead Dark Ages and the progressive elements of the modern age. The calligrapher’s role in this shadowy conflict will carry him to many perilous places— through the gates of sinister castles and to the doors of a bizarre bordello; toward life-and death confrontations with inventive henchmen, ingenious mechanical execution devices, poisonous fish, and murderous automatons. As the conspiracy to halt the Enlightenment’s astonishing progress intensifies, young Dalessius’s courage—as well as Voltaire’s unique cunning and wit—are put to the ultimate test as they strive to ensure the survival of the future.

My Review:

Intriguing, beguiling, mysterious, Voltaire’s Calligrapher by Pablo De Santis is a story told during the Age of Enlightenment by a 20-year-old calligrapher, Dalessius. Dalessius lands a coveted position working in Ferney for the famous and infamous Voltaire when he finds himself sent first to Toulouse then to Paris in Voltaire’s stead. De Santis writes a compelling mystery and transports the reader back to 18th century France and the mysteries surrounding disappearing ink, automatons and the darker secrets of religious power. Along the way the reader is introduced to an eccentric array of characters, both major and minor. Dalessius relies on a newly formed friendship with an executioner named Kolm, the secretive Von Knepper and his alluring daughter Clarissa. Voltaire’s Calligrapher is a dark tale of mystery, intrigue, and suspense. De Santis’ novel is short, but long in depth and description, bringing to light the lengths the powers that be, especially the religious powers, go to in attempts to prevent the Age of Enlightenment. I found Voltaire’s Calligrapher to be a fast-paced, dark, and compelling mystery. I would recommend Voltaire’s Calligrapher to anyone looking for an interesting mystery occurring during the Age of Enlightenment.

About the Author:

A journalist and comic-strip creator who became editor in chief of one of Argentina’s leading comics magazines, Pablo De Santis is the author of six critically acclaimed novels, one work of nonfiction, and a number of books for young adults. His works have been published in more than twenty countries. He lives in Buenos Aires.

I received a complimentary copy of Voltaire’s Calligrapher by Pablo De Santis from Regal Literary to review. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.

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