About the Book – From Goodreads:
Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.
Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.
Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.
Changeling is the first young adult novel from Philippa Gregory, the author of many historical fictions including The Other Boleyn Girl. Set in 1453, this historical fiction follows two main characters, Luca and Isolde. Luca is working to become a priest, but he is kicked out of his monastery after using logic to question the authenticity of a religious artifact, and is instead asked to use his logic to travel around and study strange occurrences in the land. Isolde is the daughter of a great ruler, who is forced by her brother to live at an abbey after her father’s death. The two come together when Luca is sent to investigate strange happenings at the abbey, witchcraft that is being blamed on Isolde herself.
This is a good read for lovers of historical fiction, fantasy, and mystery. While the book is not set in a fantasy world, there are elements of sort of “realistic fantasy” strewn into the story, because of the superstitions and beliefs people held at the time. There is a lot of mystery in this story, too, and I am guessing, since this is the first book in a new series, that there will be a lot more mystery to come as well. There is not a lot of romance in this story (although that might build as the series continues), and there is not much action. But for those who like historical fiction and enjoy mysteries solved with the use of logics, this might be a great choice.
My favourite thing about the book? There was a lot of mystery in this book. Sometimes I could guess what was happening, but a lot of the time I couldn’t, which was nice. The mysteries sort of sat on the line between real events and supernatural happenings, too, and it was fun to try and guess what the end result would be.
My least favourite thing about the book? I didn’t connect with the characters too much in this book. Isolde seemed a bit oblivious to what was going on around her, and relied too heavily on her friend for advice. Luca seemed to be angry all the time; I can’t count all the times he said something “irritably”! However, these characters might develop more as the series progresses, and their personalities might become a bit more rounded as we learn more about them.
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The Kingmaker’s Daughter – Philippa Gregory
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