Author: Philippa Gregory
Where I got it: From the library
Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of the first-ever teen series from #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl.
Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.
Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.
Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.
The first in a series, this epic and richly detailed drama is grounded in historical communities and their mythic beliefs. It includes a medieval map of Europe that will track their journey; and the interior will include relevant decorative elements as well as an interior line illustration. And look for a QR code that links to a note from the author with additional, detailed information about the setting and the history that informed the writing. With Philippa Gregory’s trademark touch, this novel deftly brings the past—and its salacious scandals—vividly and disturbingly to life.
I have been a fan of Philippa Gregory for half of forever. I’ve always found her adult novels completely addicting, transporting, and engaging. But, I have to admit, I had mixed emotions about her publishing a YA novel – I wasn’t sure how a tendency toward historical fiction was going to relate to YA. Hard to explain.
After reading Changeling, I still had mixed emotions. I liked the book, and I think that if it was my only experience with Gregory’s work, I probably would have loved it. However, that’s not the case… And the fact is that while I liked it, I like her adult books better. Le sigh.
My main argument in favor of this is that the writing bordered on the too simple. Like, too simple for YA – which I found incredibly frustrating at times, because not only am I a reasonably smart individual, but actual young adults are too.
Also, the plot didn’t flow in the manner I’ve come to expect. It got where it was going and it did a solid job of it, but it never picked me up and ran away with me for hours. And running away with me for hours was what I was really looking for.
Criticism aside, this is a good book – it’s just not rock my world fantastic in my opinion. I’d say it’s definitely safe for young ish readers, and probably a great introduction to Philippa Gregory’s other work.