What follows is a booktalk for a title on our Mock Printz shortlist. We hope you’ll be able to join us at the event where our winner will be chosen! This booktalk was written by Lisa Elliott of Tigard Public Library.
It is the 13th Century, and war has ravaged the people of what is now France and Spain. Wars of land and treasure, but also wars of religion, with entire villages and the people within them burned as heretics. Though people are still afraid, that time has mostly passed. Botille and her sisters have carved a peaceful living amongst their neighbors in the small fishing village of Bajas. Botille’s older sister, the beautiful Plazensa, brews and cooks in their tavern. Her baby sister Sazia tells fortunes with uncanny accuracy. Botille is a matchmaker.
And all is well until she stumbles upon a frail, starving woman while on a short journey. Something compels Botille to hide Dolssa in her wagon and bring her home. Something keeps her from revealing her sickly charge to the Friar who is searching for her. Somehow, in spite of the deadly risk of helping this young woman branded “heretic,” Botille knows she must keep her safe.
Then the miracles begin, and Botille knows Dolssa, this strange woman who can’t seem to perform the simplest tasks, who spends her time chatting with her invisible Beloved, is certainly holy. She knows she must preserve her life, but when the Friar arrives, with a Bishop and a small army, she feels conflicted about putting her family and the whole village at risk of punishment and worse. How can someone as radiant as Dolssa be evil? And is Botille also evil for harboring her? She doesn’t think so, but dare she disagree with the Church?
Readers who love history, intrigue, a hint of romance, and a story that will stay with you long after the last page will love this dense, but fast-paced book.