Narrator: Charlie Cox
Series: Order of Darkness #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 29, 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, General, Historical, Europe, Love & Romance, Fantasy & Magic, Paranormal
Source: Simon & Schuster Audio
I received this book for free from Simon & Schuster Audio in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Buy on Amazon
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. The first in a series, this epic and richly detailed drama is grounded in historical communities and their mythic beliefs. It includes a medieval map of Europe that will track their journey; and the interior will include relevant decorative elements as well as an interior line illustration. And look for a QR code that links to a note from the author with additional, detailed information about the setting and the history that informed the writing. With Philippa Gregory’s trademark touch, this novel deftly brings the past—and its salacious scandals—vividly and disturbingly to life.
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.