SPIDER'S VOICE by Gloria Skurzynski


Age Range: 12 - 15
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Grand passion, terror, desire, comfort—it’s all here, and much of it is actual history, in Skurzynski’s spirited retelling of the story of Abelard and Eloise. The author can be forgiven some purple prose and melodramatic posturing on the narrator’s account: Aran is a mute shepherd rescued by Abelard himself from the horrors of an abusive family and then from a man who produces freaks on demand. Abelard, the mesmerizing 12th-century theologian and scholar, has need of a silent servant, as Aran—now called Spider—learns, because he is passionately in love with his student Eloise and their lessons have turned carnal. Spider keeps watch during their trysts, and travels with them when the pregnant Eloise goes to live with Abelard’s noble family. Eloise’s brilliance and beauty glow in these pages, along with Abelard’s reckless, self-centered intensity, and the harshness of peasant life. Spider is helpless to prevent Abelard’s castration by Eloise’s uncle, but that trauma leads him to find, eventually, a voice of his own. A great deal of information about medieval France, gore that won’t disturb the more hardened in the audience, and a famed love story will hold readers and send them to the sources cited at the end. (map) (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-689-82149-2
Page count: 198pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1999