Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Review of ‘The Devil’s Gorge’ by Dora Ilieva

Sam Angelov, a University of Toronto student, receives notification that he has inherited an apartment in Bulgaria from his grandmother. Accompanied by his friend, Ben, Sam flies to Sofia to meet with a local lawyer. While the inheritance paperwork is being processed, Sam sets out to meet a distant cousin, Kossara, and her father Kiril, a well-known history professor.

Sam and Ben travel with Kossara to the Thracian city of Perperikon in the Rhodope Mountains, where Kiril and a group of archaeologists are working at a dig. Perperikon sits high on a rocky hill and its history revolves around a temple of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and fertility; and Orpheus, the legendary musician and poet. Kiril is convinced that two invaluable treasures from the ancient world are buried somewhere on the site.

The Devil’s Gorge by Dora Ilieva (2014) is an engaging archaeological thriller set in one of the most beautiful regions of Bulgaria. The settings described in the book are real, and as colorful and fascinating as described. The Nestinarstvo fire dancing tradition is still practiced in rural areas of Bulgaria.

The Devil’s Gorge of the title refers to the stunning Devil’s Throat Cave, through which Orpheus is said to have descended into the subterranean kingdom of Hades to seek his lost love Eurydice. The cave plays no significant role in this story, but perhaps Sam and Kossara will return to it in the novel’s sequel.

Dora Ilieva is a Bulgarian-Canadian author who grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria, and moved to Canada when she was twenty-eight. She is married and has three children. She works as a teacher and writes in her spare time. The Devil's Gorge, the author's debut novel, was followed by The Master and White Clay in the Across the Ocean series.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for alerting me to your review!
    Like you, I loved Ilieva's rich portrayals of the Bulgarian landscape and culture