1st April 2010, Random House Children's Books
308 pages, Paperback (see note)
Note: I had a proof copy. The actual book is hardback and 320 pages
Historical, 12 years +
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
Summary from Random House
Zarita, only daughter of the town magistrate, lives a life of wealth and privilege. Indulged by her parents, she is free to spend her days as she pleases, enjoying herself in the company of an eligible young nobleman, horse riding, or leisurely studying the arts.
Saulo, son of a family reduced by circumstances to begging, witnesses his father wrongfully arrested and dealt with in the most horrifying way. Hauled off to be a slave at sea and pursued by pirates he encounters the ambitious mariner explorer, Christopher Columbus. Throughout his hardships Saulo is determined to survive - for he has sworn vengeance on the magistrate and his family.
As Zarita's life also undergoes harsh changes the formidable and frightening Inquisition arrives in the area, bringing menacing shadows of suspicion with acts of cruel brutality - and ultimately, amid the intrigues of the court of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand in the splendid Moorish city of Grenada, betrayal and revenge...
Having enjoyed Theresa Breslin's previous work, The Nostradamus Prophecy, I was more than happy to accept a review copy of this book. It has Theresa's style of high drama, plot twists, and voices which drew me on page after page.
I liked having two very different view of events. Zarita is spoilt. She doesn't realise that at with one single sentence to her father, she changes the life of Saulo and his family. The mistake she makes isn't realised by Zarita until later on in the novel. By then it is too late. Until two metaphorical knights in shining armour come to save her.
I did feel sorry for her when the hardships happened because she is a bit naieve and doesn't necessarily realise the power she has as a privileged child. Her heart is essentially a good one, because she does try to make amends. Saying sorry doesn't stop the man leading the inquisition, Father Besian suspecting her of misconduct. That man...there aren't enough words to describe how evil he is. The cruelties that he inflicts on others had me in tears and made the resident butterflies in my stomach preform their usual acrobatics.
Saulo acknowledges the mistake, and uses it to drive his need for revenge. Circumstances drives him far from Zarita. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder - it also increases a person's revenge, rather than lessening it. Saulo has character flaws which make him realistic - he is happy to exact his revenge in the end. Although it doesn't work out as plans, and places his life on a course to collide with Christopher Columbus, who also features in Zarita's life.
Both characters drew me into the cruelties of the inquisition, which if I'm honest reminds me a little of how some people in the world are treated today. I'm glad I wasn't alive back then. I wish history wasn't repeating itself for a minority of people. The people who need to learn the lesson from the past, are probably the ones least likely to read this book.
Once again Theresa has written a gripping story which tugged on all of my emotions. I continue to look forward to more work from her.