Thursday, January 12, 2017

Book Review: The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

The Passion of Dolssa, by Julie Berry book cover and review.
When my book club chose The Passion of Dolssa for our next selection, and I read the description, I wasn't sure I'd like it.  But...I was captivated by this story.

There are several points-of-view, but the two main ones are Botille and Dolssa.  It is 1241 (a long time ago) and we have just been through the crusades and are entering into the inquisition. Dolssa hears the voice of Jesus, and refers to him as her love.  She has the power to heal (or, Jesus heals through her.) This is very dangerous. She is labeled as a heretic, and she and her mother are to be burned.  Dolssa escapes and is found, almost dead, by Botille.

Botille takes pity on Dolssa and brings her to the tavern that she runs along with her sisters.  They keep Botille hidden and nurse her back to health. Her powers to heal become known in the little town, and as hard as they try to keep a secret, soon the inquisitors who have been searching for her show up.

It becomes a battle for Botille to hide Dolssa and save her, as well as save herself and her sisters, because anyone helping a heretic is also guilty.

The book is exciting, but I would not say it is action-packed--more of a bbuild-up of tension.  I really liked it because of the characterizations.  Each one is distinct and varied.  Botille is a matchmaker; her sister is a fortune teller.  They have a drunken father who seems unimportant but isn't. There are many others that add depth to the story. Romance isn't the focus, but there is a bit.

I would characterize this more of a survival story, rather than historical.  I'm not sure why, but I don't feel like I learned a great deal about the period.  Although, the extensive notes at the end help.  I was worried when I saw a glossary of foreign words at the end of the book, but I found most of the meanings were apparent by the context in which they were used, so I only used the glossary a couple of times. There is also a cast of characters, historical notes, bibliography, place names, and additional reading.  Don't be put off by all of it.  I found the story easy to follow without any of that.

I'm curious to see how my teens like this one.  I'm not sure it's for everyone, but I have some that I will definitely encourage to pick this one up.

Published by Viking BFYR, April 12, 2016
Copy obtained from the library
478 pages

Rating: 4/5

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  1. I read this awhile back and loved it. I'm not sure how much it will appeal to teens, but it's a great book!

  2. I was reluctant to pick this one up because of the religious angle but I actually ended up enjoying it for the friendship between the main characters. I also think it's a strong Printz contender.

  3. I'm not sure this one sounds like my kind of book, but I can see a certain set of teens loving it

  4. You mentioned that this was the favorite book by your Mock Printz readers. Is the list of your winners and honor books published some place? I am compiling all Mock Printz lists that I can find on my website. Let me know.

  5. I love Julie Berry, so I'm excited to read this one. I bought it a couple months ago, though, and haven't opened it yet. One of these days ...


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