Friday, December 9, 2016

The Inquisitor's Tale

Written by Adam Gidwitz
Illuminated by Hatem Aly
Dutton Children's Books, 2016.  Fiction.

 After an unlikely encounter in medieval France, three extraordinary children with magical abilities find themselves on the run with their holy dog Gwenforte.  Their story unfolds through tales told by a host of ale-drinking characters at a Paris inn.  Jeanne, the young peasant girl who has visions of the future, Jacob, the Jewish boy with the power to heal, and William, a half-African Christian oblate with superhuman strength, have quickly become the stuff legends are made of.  Crisscrossing their way across France seeking answers at Saint Denis, they fight a dragon, befriend the king, and meet their match in the terrifyingly huge, red-haired monk Michelangelo.

Set against the backdrop of the Inquisition, medieval fare is on full display with kings and knights, castles and cathedrals, abbeys and ale.  The unusual story, equal parts adventure and historical fiction, is well-suited for upper elementary children and up.  Aly's beautifully authentic illuminations add further depth to the tales.  With page-turning action and laugh out loud humor, Gidwitz creates a masterpiece unrivaled since The Canterbury Tales.  A timely message of unity for a world still divided by remarkably similar issues.

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