Plot/Idea: City of Liars is a dark romance, set during a painful time in history that led to countless deaths, paranoia, and secrecy. Focused on anti-Semitism at the hands of the Inquisition in Barcelona, Fogle's book explores the desolate fear experienced by those threatened by the church, and what they had to do in order to survive.
Prose: Fogle's writing is gritty and dark, with highlights of beauty and nuance. She is able to place the reader into the setting, no matter how grotesque the subject material. Her descriptions of people are on point as well, writing them so that they emanate their character and values through their physical appearances, words, and actions.
Originality: Fogle has placed a spotlight on a piece of history, and has given the reader a very sympathetic love story to experience in the midst of the chaos of killings at the hands of the church.
Character Development/Execution: Fogle writes her characters well, humanizing their attributes and experiences while she gives the reader a glimpse into their psyches, even if brief.
Date Submitted: April 11, 2022
Vivid with immersive historic detail, plotted with memorable twists and turns, and told in arresting, irresistible prose (“My priest and teacher is an assassin and seducer”), Fogle’s expertly wrought tale will entrance readers of historical fiction and anyone interested in stories of lovers swept up in times of terror. Looming over Joachim and Aularia’s budding romance is the barbarity of the Spanish Inquisition (Fogle doesn’t skimp on details of the more disturbing aspects, including torture), and readers will root for a happy ending as the pair face potential tragedy. Danger abounds, friends and foes alike will fall, and hearts will break, though Joachim and Aularia passionately believe in their ability to affect change. In Fogle’s hands their plight is gripping and emotionally resonant.
The author’s background as a psychotherapist contributes to her masterful handling of characters, both their actions and their inner lives, and she brings clear-eyed life to her milieu, capturing 15th century Barcelona in descriptive prose steeped in impeccable research. This story of tyranny and love will keep its audience turning the pages–and unlikely to forget its ending.
Takeaway: Fogle’s clear-eyed narrative about the barbarity of the Spanish Inquisition brings history to glorious life.
Great for fans of: Alice Hoffman’s Incantation, Mitchell James Kaplan’s By Fire, By Water.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A