genre: ya historical fiction
In medieval Southern France, a holy war has recently slaughtered thousands of the so-called heretics who have no need for the conventions of Catholicism. Rooting out the few remaining sinners and their sympathizers is the focus of Holy Men up and down the coast. When word of a girl who does miracles reaches the ears of the Fathers, she is brought in for questioning. Unable to deny her connection to her Savior, Dolssa is willing to be burned if that is the sacrifice that’s required.
Botille is nothing like a believer. Living with her two sisters and drunk of a father, a hand-to-mouth existence whose only reward is the relationships she’s made in her village, she is content enough with her lot. But when paths cross and fortunes told become reality, Botille’s life will never be the same.
While all the names at the beginning confused me (there is a list at the end! OH how I wish I’d noticed that BEFORE the end of the book!) and the ending confused me a bit, I really liked this historical story. Dolssa is a powerful character and her weaknesses outshone her strengths as she solidified her relationship with her God and found where the well of her faith resided. I loved the sisters and the town – frustrating though each member could be, there is a very communal feel in Botille’s village and it felt very real. I liked the religious overtones in this book – the miracles and the differences between the faith of the “holy” men and that of a simple believer, seeing miracles and attributing them to God.
I also always appreciate an appendix that fleshes out the history for me –I am embarrassed that I know so little about the time period or the factual events the story is based around. Well written book, if the ending had felt less ambiguous to me I would give it 4.5 stars but it’s still a solid 4 star story.