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Miracles, mystery, and magic in Leigh Bardugo's 'The Familiar'

Leigh Bardugo attends Netflix's Shadow & Bone Season 2 Premiere at Netflix Tudum Theater in Los Angeles, California.
Leigh Bardugo attends Netflix's Shadow & Bone Season 2 Premiere at Netflix Tudum Theater in Los Angeles, California.

What does a miracle mean in a deeply religious society?

Is it a wonder to celebrate and show the power of a god? Or is it dangerous – a challenge to a religious order, one that could mean imprisonment or death for the miracle-worker?

That’s the question posed at the center of “The Familiar.” It’s a new adult fantasy novel set in 16th-century Spain written by author Leigh Bardugo.

“TheFamiliar”transports you toakingdomin the grips of religious fervorandina period of decline.Spain’s ailingkingseespotentialenemiesallaround,and heplots his next move after the loss of his armadatoEngland’s Queen Elizabeth the First.The Spanish Inquisitionhas become abureaucracy,a factof life that can imprison and torture anyonesuspected ofreligiousheresy.Including magic. 

Unlike most of Bardugo’s books,“The Familiar”isaimed at adults. Andin this one,she has a personal connectionto thesetting.So how did she set out to build a world of magic in this historical period?We talk to her about the novel and her writing process.

Copyright 2024 WAMU 88.5

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Michael Falero is a radio reporter, currently covering voting and the 2020 election. He previously covered environment and energy for WFAE. Before joining WFAE in 2019, Michael worked as a producer for a number of local news podcasts based in Charlotte and Boston. He's a graduate of the Transom Story Workshop intensive on Cape Cod and UNC Chapel Hill.