While reading Jean Plaidy’s Madame Serpent

…I discovered a torture device that was new to me¹.

The guy — who was being interrogated about the sudden death of the Dauphin — gets his legs and feet crushed by The Boot².

UGH.

THEN, as if that wasn’t enough, he gets drawn and quartered.  (Apparently, even though Count Montecuccoli confessed (because confessions under torture are oh-so-trustworthy), François III may have actually died of tuberculosis.)

And Catherine hasn’t even STARTED poisoning people yet.

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¹Not that I’m hugely well-versed in torture devices.  But I have seen a lot of horror movies, so… you know.  I’ve picked things up.  And there was that very first episode of Wire in the Blood.  SQUICK.  Love that show, but WOW.  I totally understand why some people were unable to keep watching.  (Though they’re missing out.  Robson Green, mmmmmm.)

²While I was reading up on that, I discovered the existence of the show Surviving History, which sadly only lasted one season.  It sounds like a pretty awesome premise, though maybe not for the super-squeamish.

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The Bad Queen, by Carolyn Meyer

Halfway through the book I still couldn’t figure out why I kept picturing the Dauphin of France as Jason Schwartzman.  

Then it hit me:

The VERDICT: Historical YA fiction enthusiasts, go for it.

The Bad Queen is as interesting as it is easy to read, with great tidbits such as 18th century teeth straightening:

“I thought the canines he talked about were probably dogs, and the pelican must be some exotic sea bird, and none of it made any sense to me. Then, without a word of warning, he placed a block of wood in my mouth to hold it open, gripped one of my upper teeth in the draws of a dreadful instrument—this was the pelican—and forced the tooth into a new position.  I let out a shriek of pain and terror, my arms and legs flailing.  Several footmen rushed to pin me down and hold my head in place.  While I howled, Doctor Bourdet repeated the horrible process on the remaining canines–my pointed teeth, it turned out, and not dogs at all.”

(It gets even better when they move on to the gold wire braces.)

If you know the story of Marie Antoinette, little will come as a surprise.  Still, it’s nice to hear her story from the perspective of what she was: political pawn AND young girl.  Scapegoats for the French revolutionists, she and Louis have been labeled everything from uncaring to cruel… but really, they were probably just totally inept.¹

The Bad Queen tells that side of the story.
¹Okay, so  she had that whole Petit Trianon thing—that was a bit much.