Enamored by the handsome and arrogant Charles-Auguste, a wealthy French aristocrat, 18-year-old Minella is drawn into a complicated world of danger, betrayal, and murder. Denying her own suspicion that he has murdered his wife, she struggles with her fascination for the seductive and mysterious count. Against the backdrop of the incipient French Revolution, Minella’s life becomes a series of adventures that all lead to an exciting and unexpected climax. Davina Porter’s passionate narration transports readers back to a time when romance was a prerequisite to sex and family. Reminiscent of Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, the historic setting and the powerful heroine captivate any reader who enjoys a book that is impossible to put down.
Rating: I gave this a B+ for content and an A- for narration in my review at AudioGals
I read lots of Victoria Holt’s gothic romances when I was in my twenties. I still have several battered old paperbacks sitting on my shelves, of which The Devil on Horseback is one, although I haven’t read it for quite some time. But when I saw it was one of the – sadly few – titles available in audiobook format, I pounced on it eagerly. The Devil on Horseback is narrated by Davina Porter, who I am sure many will recognize as the voice of the Outlander series (although I confess this is my first time listening to her). But I liked her voice in the sample I listened to; her precise delivery seemed perfect for a young, well-bred English lady of the eighteenth century, and I was intrigued to learn how she would handle the rest of the characters, the majority of whom are French.
The protagonist is nineteen-year-old Minella Maddox, daughter of a widowed schoolmistress. She and her mother run a small girls’ school near the estate of Sir John Derringham and his family. Minella helps her mother with the teaching and befriends one of the pupils, Margot, daughter of the enigmatic Comte Fontaine-Delibes. Minella also attracts the attention of Joel Derringham, heir to the Derringham estate, something which thrills her mother, but which is not welcomed by the young man’s parents. Davina Porter does a good job in differentiating the voices of the two Derringham men, and of Joel’s two sisters, one of whom is clearly a lot friendlier than the other. She gives Margot a slightly husky quality and I could actually see her facial expressions in my mind on those occasions she was being dismissive (oh, the utility of the wonderful Gallic shrug) or mischievous.
You can read the rest of this review over at AudioGals.