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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Prisoner of the Inquisition by Theresa Breslin

Title: Prisoner of the Inquisition
Author: Theresa Breslin
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: Corgi Childrens, 2011
ISBN: 9780552560740

Rating: 4 Crowns

Can she survive this time of fire and fury?

Synopsis: 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

My Thoughts:

Although I don't often read YA fiction I'm glad I decided to read Prisoner of the Inquisition and not surprised it's shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and several other literary awards. It's a fast-paced and engrossing tale of romance and adventure set in Spain at a pivotal time in history and I enjoyed it very much.

By the end of the 15th century the world was on the brink of enormous changes that would challenge people to question beliefs held for centuries . This is the world both protaganists are growing up in and their stories reflect the contrast between the repressive and restricting old and the exploration and expansion of the new. I really liked the alternating narration by Zarita and Saulo as it shows the point of view of both sides. The paths of the two young people cross at the beginning , a terrible mistake is made and each will go their own way until the end brings them together again. As the story progresses, whether facing the hardships of life at sea or the fear and suspicion instigated by the church, they grow in courage and strength and learn to confront their own inner demons.
It is quite graphic throughout but it wouldn't be historically accurate otherwise. The years have never taken away my sensitivity to reading about burnings and torture but you can't have the Inquisition without the atrocities they committed and it's not overdone.
Many years ago it was books like Prisoner of the Inquisition that set alight what became a lifelong love of historical fiction and I hope it will do the same for young readers now. A great plot, a slightly different love story, action and intrigue and a well-researched and vividly described background make compelling reading.Recommended! 

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