ElizaBeth Gilligan's THE SILKEN SHROUD concentrates more on the previously secondary characters Maggiore Mandero di Montago and his tragic love Alessandra. Maggiore is finally given permission to search for the Cardinal who has stolen his fiancee Alessandra's body for use in black magic. He is also supposed be getting information on a group of witchhunters reportedly in the country. The Romani and the faery help Maggiore out. He agrees to a spell that ties him closer to Alessa to try to keep her spirit from losing her sense of self, for the longer she is in this mullo state and full of hate, the more evil she will become. Somehow during the faery ceremony, he is united temporarily with his love...long enough to marry and have a night (or part of one <g>) together.
From Alessa's side, you see her battle for escape from the Cardinal and her inevitable decline as she starts losing her sense of self and has her first taste of blood. But all is not hopeless and she discovers she's not alone in her pain. She is not the only body that the Cardinal has experimented with.
There is also a crisis going on at the palace with the Queen and Luciana (from the previous book). They are both with child, but magic has been used wrongly and the Queen is in jeopardy.
I enjoyed THE SILKEN SHROUD immensely; there is never a dull moment. I wouldn't recommend reading THE SILKEN SHROUD without first having read the first book, MAGIC'S SILKEN SNARE. This is another thick book, and I unfortunately had to put it down often, but my interest kept getting caught as soon as I picked it up again. All the plots in the story kept me on my toes. Unfortunately, the story is left hanging with lots of unfinished business for the next book in the series. Wonder how many books are planned?? Nevertheless, I am still highly recommending this and look forward to the next one.--(26 Apr 04)