Michaeline: Review: “Masquerade in Lodi”

"Masquerade in Lodi" by Lois McMaster Bujold, A Penric and Desdemona Novella. Penric and a girl in a long party dress (both in masks) cross a bridge over a canal during a festival in Lodi

“Masquerade in Lodi”. Image via Amazon.com

Good news for me this month! Lois McMaster Bujold’s newest Penric and Desdemona novella came out on Oct. 14, 2020 for Kindle and iBooks (as of this writing, there were still problems with the Barnes and Noble upload).

And of course, there’s nothing like a masquerade for October!

Although, I stretch the point a bit – Lodi looks a lot like our Earth Venice on the edge of the Print Era. The masquerade is a five-gods holiday called Bastard’s Eve, and is set during midsummer. It’s celebrated with revels and fools and drinking and masks of all sorts. And food onna stick! It’s not a harvest festival like Halloween or a pre-fast festival like Mardi Gras.

The book will stand by itself just fine, I think, but for readers who have read other Penric and Desdemona novellas, it falls between “Penric’s Fox” and “Penric’s Mission” – just after Penric’s unwritten nervous breakdown as a doctor who can’t save everyone, and before he becomes a spy and political operative.

In many ways, Penric is in limbo. He’s recovering from his breakdown. He’s quietly engaged in translation (what Desdemona scornfully calls “busywork”), and he looks forward to Bastard’s Eve because everybody will be out of the temple, leaving him alone to his thoughts and mild rehabilitation.

But of course, his boss and his god (the Bastard) have other plans for him. A mad sailor has washed up on shore and into a charity hospice for sailors, and his doctor thinks there’s something uncanny about the madness . . . . One look, and Penric realizes that’s not madness – that’s an ascended demon controlling the poor man.

There’s only a hint of romance in this book, and not for Penric. But it’s a delightful, fuzzy little hint. Instead, we get a great view of Lodi on holiday while Penric finds the Bastard’s saint and the two search for the escaped sailor. Crowds and masks and thrills galore! Oh, and just enough festival food to keep us going through the long Bastard’s Eve. There’s a happy ending for most, and a justified ending for the bad guy.

“Masquerade in Lodi”. Happy fuzzy feelings. What more can you ask for after reading a novella on a chilly October evening? (Or any other time of the year, for that matter?) Lois does it again!!

6 thoughts on “Michaeline: Review: “Masquerade in Lodi”

  1. Ooh! Thanks for the heads-up, Michaeline! I am *almost* finished with my edits on The Pulse of Princes, and now I have a tasty treat to reward myself with when the job is done. Rolling up my sleeves!

    • Short, but sweet. Honestly, I need more short fiction right now — 45 minutes to two hours range. It’s hard to block out six hours these days even on the weekends, and I find it so hard to stop when I’m reading a good book.

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