I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
Also by this author: Secondhand Charm, All the Truth That's in Me, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on April 12th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Love & Romance
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I must write this account, and when I have finished, I will burn it.
Buried deep within the archives of a convent in medieval France is an untold story of love, loss, and wonder and the two girls at the heart of it all.
Dolssa is an upper-crust city girl with a secret lover and an uncanny gift. Branded a heretic, she’s on the run from the friar who condemned her mother to death by fire, and wants Dolssa executed, too.
Botille is a matchmaker and a tavern-keeper, struggling to keep herself and her sisters on the right side of the law in their seaside town of Bajas.
When their lives collide by a dark riverside, Botille rescues a dying Dolssa and conceals her in the tavern, where an unlikely friendship blooms. Aided by her sisters and Symo, her surly but loyal neighbor, Botille nurses Dolssa back to health and hides her from her pursuers. But all of Botille’s tricks, tales, and cleverness can’t protect them forever, and when the full wrath of the Church bears down upon Bajas, Dolssa’s passion and Botille’s good intentions could destroy the entire village.
From the author of the award-winning All the Truth That’s in Me comes a spellbinding thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page and make you wonder if miracles really are possible.
The Passion Of Dolssa by Julie Berry is an intricately written young adult historical novel set in an era of Inquisitions. Berry’s latest book is quite different from The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place – yet retains the powerful bounds of sisterhood – and is more along the lines of All The Truth That’s In Me with the serious subject matter and heavy mood. I felt like Berry really had her writing chops on full display with this multi narrator book. It’s layered and complex and quite the harrowing read. This is absolutely not a book for the faint of heart – it can feel long and maybe a bit more adult than young adult. However, the pieces all put together add up to an unforgettable read.
The Passion Of Dolssa is about this girl named Dolssa who believes that Jesus is her beloved and she finds herself able to perform small miracles. However, not everyone thinks this is awesome and she finds herself on the wrong side of the Inquisition. After her mother is burned at the stake and Dolssa is next, she makes a miraculous escape and runs away. She finds help from unexpected quarter along the road – this includes a young matchmaker and tavern keeper named Botille. Botille and her two sisters live in the town of Bajas by the seaside. They shelter Dolssa and hide her from the inquisitors who are looking for her. Although Botille and Dolssa could not be more different – they form quite the friendship and so, the town of Bajas will find itself forever changed by Dolssa.
Although this book is entitled The Passion of Dolssa, I think that the true star of the book is Botille. She’s the type of main character I love to read about. Botille is fiercely independent and has made her way in the world with her two sisters – where they have risen above their origins to carve out a nice living for themselves via the tavern and some side hustles. Botille is a matchmaker in addition to the tavern business. She is fiercely dedicated to her sisters – but at the same time, she knows that keeping Dolssa with them will put them in danger, but because it is the right thing to do, she keeps Dolssa hidden. I found myself very invested in Botille’s story. I loved that she was just an ordinary girl with a bit of a head for business.
As for Julie Berry’s title character, Dolssa ended up growing on me. I’ll admit that her whole being in love with God and him being her beloved was a bit odd to me. I was sort of skeptical that she was actually hearing God. I thought she was deluded. However, then the miracles started happening and my mind was changed. I liked how Dolssa changed over the course of the book. She starts out quite pampered but then she’s on the run and is terrible at surviving without help and still fearful. By the end though, she has lived through so much and has let go of her fear. It’s quite spectacular to read.
Surprisingly, The Passion Of Dolssa does contain some romance. It is not between Dolssa and Botille like I had initially predicted. Rather, the romance is between Botille and an unexpected quarter. I loved how this romance played out – using one of my favorite tropes – where the two characters annoy each other at first, but over a long period of time, feelings begin to form. I really enjoyed this segment of the book even though it was not the main focus of the book.
It has been awhile since I’ve read a book set in the Inquisition post Crusades era, especially one that is not non-fiction. I thought that Julie Berry did setting quite well – her words form a clear time and place. I could easily picture Bajas as well as the trail that the Inquisitors took in pursuit of Dolssa. You could also feel the religious fervor as well. I liked that this book took on religion and how people interpret it differently than perhaps organized religion interprets.
The Passion Of Dolssa by Julie Berry is a bit slower than other young adult books – but it is a read that rewards patience. I think that everything comes together quite well in the end. I loved how different it felt from other books on the market – even though I really like the other young adult books out there. I do think that this is a book for readers who are more cerebral and who take an interest in history. If your bread and butter is action and explosions and kissing – maybe skip this one. If you like books that ask philosophical questions, then definitely read The Passion Of Dolssa.
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