Changeling by Philippa Gregory
Summary from inside left flap:
THE YEAR IS 1453 AND ALL SIGNS POINT TO IT BEING THE END OF THE WORLD.
Accused of heresy and expelled from his monastery, handsome seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is recruited by a mysterious stranger to record the end of times across Europe. Commanded by sealed orders, Luca is sent to map the fears of Christendom and travel to the very frontier of good and evil.
Seventeen-year-old Isolde, a Lady Abbess, is trapped in a nunnery to prevent her from claiming her rich inheritance. As the nuns in her care are driven mad by having strange visions, walking in their sleep, and showing bleeding wounds. Luca is sent to investigate, and all the evidence points to Isolde’s criminal guilt.
Forced to face the greatest fears of the medieval world — dark magic, werewolves, madness — Luca and Isolde embark on a search for truth, their own destinies, and even love as they take the unknown ways to the real historical figure who defends the boundaries of Christendom and holds the secrets of the Order of Darkness.
This was my book club read for November. For the last couple of months my book club has taken a different approach. Instead of everyone reading the same book, we simply pick an author and everyone reads the book of their choice by that author. October was James Patterson. November was Philippa Gregory. I’ve read a few of her historical fiction books and really enjoyed them. When I heard she was starting a teen series, I was intrigued.
To be honest, it was slow going at first, but then about one third of the way into the book, the story began to pick up and was quite an enjoyable read. Unlike Gregory’s other books which are based on real historical events and people, the characters in Changeling are totally fictional. With her other books, I often get sidetracked by having to look up facts about the real people in the books. It was nice to be able to read this book without that distraction.
The main characters, Luca, Isolde, Ishraq, Frieze and even Brother Peter are all likable creating a strong ensemble cast. Isolde and Ishrag are strong female characters. They are more like sisters than mistress and servant. The relationships between the characters is interesting as well. I look forward to reading more about them.
Though I wouldn’t classify this series as a mystery it does have a mysterious element. As an inquirer, Luca is tasked with sorting through layers of intrigue and/or fantasy to get to the truth of things. Gregory’s plot development is very entertaining.
I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 because of the slow start. I do recommend it for fans of medieval literature. Just don’t let the slow start keep you finishing the book.