by: Philippa Gregory
read by: Charlie Cox
Luca, an orphan and property of the church, has been accused of heresy and is essentially running from the church. He is taken and recruited to join an incredibly secret sect (The Order of the Dragon), and is named Inquirer. He is to go throughout the kingdom and investigate heresy and other signs and dangers related to the end of days.
Isolde has been cheated out of her promised inheritance. Upon the death of her father, she is forced to choose between a marriage to a lazy, disgusting prince; or a life as the Lady Abbess in the nunnery. She unwillingly chooses a position with the church. When strange visions and sleepwalking plague the Abbey, Luca comes to offer judgement as the Inquirer.
Audio Review: Charlie Cox was a magnificent narrator. British accents can be difficult for me to understand. (as a sidenote, this is why I never got into the British version of The Office, I could never understand a word that they were saying). But, Cox does a variety of accents that add such definition to already rich characters. Only through changes in his voice can he distinguish easily between male and female, rich and poor, and races. This is a title I was hoping would be awesome on audio, and it most definitely was. A little tidbit of awesome: Charlie Cox plays the Duke of Crowborough in Downton Abbey. Oh, and keep listening to the end for the authors note, loads of cool stuff.
Review: This is my first ever Philippa Gregory novel. I was intrigued by The Other Boleyn Girl, but never have gotten around to picking it up. I am; however, a huge fan of historical fiction, and the concept of Changeling really grabbed me. Having not read her other works, I couldn't say for sure if her fans will like this foray into young adult.
It is apparent that Gregory knows her craft. I would still classify this novel in the upper age range of YA, since the plot isn't one that I would necessarily call a page turner. I was interested throughout the entire novel, but for the first half, I wasn't really gripped. There is quite a bit of introduction into Isolde's character particularly.
But, overall, I really enjoyed this novel. Once you get into it and love the characters, you'll really be into the story. I'll just give you a little bit of a teaser: zombie nuns. Is that not the most creepy thing that you've ever heard of in your life? *shudders*
Other things I loved about this novel was the treatment of women in Europe during this time period (1452). Women could not own property, and any property that they were willed became the property of their husband upon marriage. Gregory does an amazing job of mixing some very real issues and problems in medieval Europe with some cool fictional elements.
Though I liked Isolde and Luca in their own way, I found it a little strange that I never rooted for the two of them. But, Freize and Ishraq? Big fan. In fact, Freize is one of the best characters I've read in awhile. He is precisely what comic relief should be. Funny, witty, but not overly silly.
So, add this one to my list of fabulous historical fiction! I'll definitely be picking up the next one in the series.