THE SORCERER OF SAINTE FELICE

Plucked from the pyre on which he’s to be burned for sorcery in 1480, Michael de Lorraine, 15, is rescued by a mysterious abbot and led to a half-ruined monastery near a French village. Across Europe, the Inquisition is hunting down and burning those who practice magic, but here the gentle monks of Sainte Felice combine sorcery with traditional Christianity, summoning angels to assist them in turning the poverty-racked village into a prosperous town. (This Inquisition seems to have no interest in hunting down Jews or other “heretics,” just sorcerers.) Sheltering in the monastery, Michael discovers the abbot’s secret and becomes his pupil in religious sorcery. Outside, the abbot’s enemies plot to destroy him. Despite its narrow focus on a few cloistered male characters, this debut novel is intriguing and suspenseful, with a persuasive historical setting that conveys monastic life especially well. Readers may wonder, however, why—if God and faith alone can work miracles—sorcery is needed. Christianity relies on free will—to choose or turn away from the faith—yet these sorcerers bind angels to do their bidding. (Historical fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7387-2070-8

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Globe Pequot

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly...

THE GIVER

From the Giver Quartet series , Vol. 1

In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility.

As Jonas approaches the "Ceremony of Twelve," he wonders what his adult "Assignment" will be. Father, a "Nurturer," cares for "newchildren"; Mother works in the "Department of Justice"; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named "Receiver," to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories—painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder ("The Giver") now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as "release" is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to "Elsewhere," a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing.

Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 978-0-395-64566-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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THE BOOK THIEF

When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as “an attempt—a flying jump of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.” When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor’s wife’s library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel’s experiences move Death to say, “I am haunted by humans.” How could the human race be “so ugly and so glorious” at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83100-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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