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Book Review: “The Passion of Dolssa” by Julie Berry

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry.  Viking Books for Young Readers, 2016.


Botille is satisfied helping her sisters run their tavern, until she finds a girl dying on the side of the road. Moved with compassion, Botille rescues Dolssa even though she is fleeing the Church that has branded her a heretic. Keeping Dolssa safe from prying eyes is a challenge, but when miracles of healing spread through the town they can’t hide Dolssa’s real power. It’s is soon clear that Dolssa’s presence has put the whole town in danger until they commit to renounce the heretic and repent. Unable to do anything but support Dolssa, Botille and her family find they must made difficult choices that could force them to lose everything.


Framed as a hidden record recently revealed, Berry creates a rich novel that delves into the world of female mystics and the inquisition. The setting of 12th-century France is emphasized by the story’s shifting viewpoints which reveal the plot from the main characters’ views along with a number of supporting and minor characters weighing in. Some of the language use and tone tends to the modern, but the integration of select foreign phrases adds to the historical context. The ambiguity in the ending may be unsettling to some readers even though it adds greatly to the mysterious context that Berry has built. With much to say about the role of faith, family, and religion in the lives of women, this novel is a unique addition to the cannon that will appeal to devotees of vibrant historical fiction.


By Rachel Wadham, Host, WORLDS AWAITING

*Contains mild yet frank depictions of violence and human sexuality in a historical context.


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At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

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