A real-life character tour de force from French author Jean Teulé featuring a famous female serial killer from the nineteenth century.
Hélène Jégado is warned about and thus introduced to the deathly effects of certain plants and flowers from a young age, she learns what to watch out for, including their superstitions.
‘Maman, who’s this Ankou you’re always talking about?’
Her mother tells her he is Death’s worker, the girl becomes obsessed with this idea, and makes it her vocation to fulfill his wishes, the only way she knows how.
Beginning with the demise of her very own maman.
‘The Ankou wears a cloak and a broad hat,’ said Anne Jégado, sitting down again. ‘He always carries a scythe with a sharpened blade. He’s often depicted as a skeleton whose head swivels constantly at the top of his spine like a sunflower on its stem so that with one glance he can take in the whole region his mission covers.’
A story of the travels and inclinations of a girl who after poisoning her mother, travels from household to household as a domestic cook unable to restrain herself from eventually succumbing to the desire to add that little something extra to the recipe, her speciality the infamous soupes-aux-herbes.
Her deathly intent, seemingly existed without malice or evil inclination, more of an addiction, a calling, a macabre loyalty to that voice in her head, the legend of Ankou, death’s helper, leading her on, guiding her towards the next victim.
Each chapter begins with a small map of the Breton region, indicating her journey, where she will travel to next, until finally, very much later, she is confronted and must face her accusers.
Macabre, yet told with an element of detachment that stops it from being sinister. Entertaining and fascinating, a little insight into another era and a moment of unforgettable history in the north of France.
Note: This book was an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) kindly provided by the publisher Gallic Books.