Saturday, August 16, 2008

Incantation by Alice Hoffman

Rating: 4/5
Genre: Young Adult historical fiction

Rural Spain during the Spanish Inquisition is the setting for this story of betrayal, faith and hope. As tensions in her town begin to mount over the Jews in their midst, Estrella's relationship with her best friend becomes complicated, even hostile. Soon, secrets kept for generations crash into Estrella's comfortable world and suddenly nothing is as it seems.

This book deals with racism and violence in a sensitive and approachable way while not dumbing down the plot for a teenage audience. The history of Jews living in hiding is fascinating and I liked that both the grandfather and the mom are powerful forces in the community. While solidly historical fiction, the beliefs and rituals of the family give the book a magical feel that I liked.

My only complaint was that the action seemed to happen too fast and be over too soon. I'd have liked the love story to be developed a little more - we don't really get much of a sense of the love interest's character until the last ten pages of the book. For a young adult historical fiction novel, though, this one is a winner.

1 comment:

Trish said...

I didn't know Hoffman wrote YA fiction! I've heard read one book by her and felt ambivilous, but I keep picking up her books at various sales. Sounds like an interesting read despite the development issues.

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