In The Child Goddess Louise Marley introduces us to a future in which the Catholic Church, bowing to peer pressure, and the need for clergy to serve on Earth and various other worlds, has allowed an order of female priests, the Magdalenes, celebate Enquirers who have accepted Mary of Magdala as Christ’s first disciple.
Despite that, it’s not a religious novel, as much as it is a good first contact story. A power company on an obscure, mostly-oceanic world discovers an island of lost children, remnants of a 300 year old colony. There’s the inevitable skirmish, and one child is brought home to Earth, where Isabel, the Magdalene priest who is the lead character, is assigned as guardian, and with the help of a friend (which backstory, I’m hoping, is in one of the other books in this series) discovers the truth of the girl’s life and culture.
It’s an excellent novel as a stand-alone, and I enjoyed it as much for the plot as for Marley’s feminist sensibilities with regard to Catholocism.
I look forward to visiting her work again, in the future.