Viper Wine

Hermione Eyre
Viper Wine Cover

Viper Wine


I read Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre for the >Worlds Without End 2016 Reading Challenge. It qualified for both the 12 Awards in 12 Months and the Women of Genre Fiction challenges, and since the year is getting late, anytime I can use a single book for multiple challenges, I consider that a win.

Viper Wine is one of those novels that snuck up on me without realizing it. I was sitting in my hairdresser's chair getting my hair colored and was reading passages from the novel, we were all laughing and were slightly shocked about the moronic lengths women from the 1600's were going to make themselves look and feel young. Then it hit me, 400 years from now, will there be some group of people laughing at the backwards people from the 2000's and all the things we did to make ourselves look younger, hair dye, Botox, and the pregnant mare urine used in the "viper wine," well, guess what a cream and injection called Premarin, made by Pfizer, is made from a hormone isolated from pregnant mare urine, and is used today as a hormone replacement therapy in post-menopausal women. So maybe I should not laugh so hard at these women.

I also struggled with what genre to place this novel in. Is it historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy? The correct answer would be yes. The novel was nominated for a Walter Scott award, which is for historical fiction, and won a Kitschies which is an award for speculative fiction, a term that encompasses SF and fantasy. So, I guess it is a bit of both.

I enjoyed this work of fiction, regardless of what category you want to put it in. I loved how the author was able to make the characters so relatable, and yet were absolutely characters of their own time. I hate to make a comparison to a movie, but this novel reminded me a bit of the 2006 movie "Marie Antoinette." It had the feel, a period piece, but with a healthy dose of the current. If anything, Hermione Eyre could accomplish this feat much smoother than Sophia Coppola did. The insertion of hints and omens of the future left me the reader with an underlying feeling of unease, which as a reader of genre fiction, I adored.

I would be hard pressed to say I would have read this book if it was not part of a reading challenge. That being said, I found I really enjoyed this story and am ever so glad I read it.

4.5 of 5 stars