Book Review of Judith
February 2022 Mensa Bulletin,
Caroline McCullagh, editor
Judith, by Kyle R. Fisher is such a good book
that I’m going to lead with the one negative I
have about it — the cover. Picture a
background of swirling greenish clouds;
foreground: a woman, her back to the
observer, in a windblown, blood-red dress. In
her hand, a large dagger. Superimposed on
her dark hair, the word Judith, also in blood-
red type. So, what kind of book is it? I was
expecting it to be about a female serial killer.
I would never have picked this up to have a
second look and find out how wrong I was if I
didn’t have to read it for the review.
I lead with the negative because other
people may react as I did to the cover and
never discover what a fine historical novel
this is. I’ve reviewed favorably two of Fisher’s
previous novels, Transplant Unlimited (2016)
and Memorabilia (2019). I complained about
the cover of Memorabilia, too.
This fascinating and well-written story is
about Judith, a granddaughter of
Charlemagne, who lived in a time (800s C.E.)
when a woman’s choice was to marry a man
of her father’s choosing or spend her life in
a religious institution. Judith was married off
twice, both times to kings, but ultimately
wanted to live life on her own terms by
marrying the man she loved.
Wow, is this good writing. It starts with a
battle scene. I find in many books that those
are so muddled that I can’t follow them very
well. Not so in this one. Fisher puts us right
in the middle of the action. He really gives us
a feel for what the times were like all the
way through the story. And there are many
characters in this book. He makes each one
come alive as an individual
So, action good, characters good,
dialogue good, scene-setting good, plot
good. And ultimately, research good. What
more can we want. This one gets five starts.
Twice married, twice a queen, twice widowed. All
before she was sixteen.
As the daughter of King Charles of Frankia and the great-
granddaughter of Charlemagne, Judith could have anything she
wanted — except a chance to fall in love. She would be forced to
either enter the church or to marry a king from some distant land
in pursuit of a strategic alliance. She wanted to fall in love with a
man of her choosing, but princesses did not get to choose. Not
wanting to live her life in a monastery, she felt a combination of
relief and apprehension when her father announced she would
marry King Æthelwulf of Wessex. She knew little of this small
kingdom on the island of Britain. The recently widowed Æthelwulf
was returning from pilgrimage to Rome and felt the Frankish
princess would bring status and sophistication to Wessex.
However, before the newlyweds had even left Frankia, word
reached them that Æthelwulf’s son intended to steal the crown. As
Judith sailed to Wessex with her new husband to face an unknown
land and an unfamiliar culture, she pushed all hope of love from
her mind. Based on the true story of this amazing woman’s life.