That Time A MG Read Reminded Me of Chaucer: A Book Review

 

When’s the last time you’ve read a standalone book? I feel like recently it’s been nothing but series or trilogies everywhere I look. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love getting lost in a world book after book. Still, sometimes I crave the feeling of completion that only standalones can give me quickly. So sometimes while I’m halfway through a series (whether waiting for the next release or binging through the whole series at once), I like to take a breather with a quick standalone read. Usually, I reach for a romance. This time though, I had the pleasure of reaching for a copy of the 2017 Newbery Honor Book, The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog. 

I had the opportunity to pick up this gem of a book from my library. I had been wanting to read it since it arrived in the bookshop I was working at last year in Boston. It instantly drew me in from its title which reminded me so much of The Decameron by Boccaccio and The Canterbury Tales  by Chaucer.  I just knew I was going to enjoy this book. And enjoy it, I did! I flew through it in two days! It was a wonderful standalone. I definitely felt satisfied by its completion. Read on below to learn more about The Inquisitor’s Tale and my thoughts on the novel!


Ownership:
 Library Book Borrowed  
Genre:
Middle Grade Historical Fiction/Magical Realism  
Publisher:
 Dutton Children’s Books
Published: 2016
Pages:
 352
Price:
$17.99 (hardcover), $10.99 (eBook)
Place: Amazon,  B & N, Book DepositoryGoodReads, IndieBound

 

Synopsis from GoodReads:

1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: they are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.

Join William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead. Told in multiple voices, in a style reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales, our narrator collects their stories and the saga of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.

Beloved bestselling author Adam Gidwitz makes his long awaited return with his first new world since his hilarious and critically acclaimed Grimm series. Featuring manuscript illuminations throughout by illustrator Hatem Aly and filled with Adam’s trademark style and humor, The Inquisitor’s Tale is bold storytelling that’s richly researched and adventure-packed.

 

~

Let’s start off by saying, this story blew my mind! I read it so fast and absolutely loved it! A lot of my love for this book came from the writing style and also from the deeper topics it explored.

Photo of the cover of the Inquisitor's TaleLike the Canterbury Tales, Adam Gidwitz’s novel, The Inquisitor’s Tale, is written with different points of view as each character tells his/her story in order to tell the over-arching story of the novel. Each person’s narration had its own feel and syntax that really showcased Gidwitz’s talent as a writer. This type of narration was absolutely perfect for this story! After reading The Inquisitor’s Tale, I cannot imagine it being written in a different way. It is no surprise that this book was a Newbery Honor book.

Speaking of Gidwitz’s talent as a writer, I really felt like Gidwitz captured the three main characters: Jeanne, Jacob and William. Throughout the novel, each character’s voice and characterization was strong. I enjoyed reading their stories and seeing how their stories eventually intertwined. The Inquisitor’s Tale initially begins by recounting Jeanne and the Holy Gwenforte (her dog)’s tale before eventually introducing the readers to Jacob and William’s stories. Each character’s story was distinct, but also had threads of similarity that easily made their friendship believable by the story’s middle and end.

Gidwitz showcased that religious tolerance can lead to so much positivity! 

I really loved how Gidwitz tackled issues of religious tolerance, diversity inclusion, and finding one’s identity through these three main characters and their collective stories. While this book does have a large religious presence, it is in no way preaching a “right” religion. Instead it focuses on showing how we are all similar even if our religions our different. It showcases that religious tolerance can lead to new friendships, to both social acceptance and self-acceptance and to a more loving and peaceful society. The novel also reminds readers to not always “judge a book by its cover” and to not always believe in the rumors. Overall, I really applaud Gidwitz for writing this novel and trying to present these topics within a story that grabs one’s interest. I really could not put this book down!

One thing that really made this book standout a part from the writing, were the illustrations! The Inquisitor’s Tale contained illustrations in the illumination style usually found on manuscripts of the time period featured in the novel. Hatem Aly did such a wonderful job making these illustrations feel like they were real illuminations on a manuscript (doodles and all!). They added so much to the tale and really made the adventure and storytelling style standout!

Lastly, while this book seems a bit intimidating in size, the story really did fly! It was fast-paced and easy reading once you fell into the rhythm of this type of storytelling. It might be a bit harder if one hasn’t seen this type of storytelling before (i.e. The Canterbury Tales or The Decameron), but I feel like it’s easily adjustable and before you know it you’re caught up in the story! The magical elements intertwined with the humor of this novel, not to mention the historical setting, made this story perfect for a grand adventure! And that’s exactly what Gidwitz gave us! The twists and turns were a delight and I wasn’t always sure what was going to happen next! Overall, this page-turner of a book is one novel I’d read again!

five stars

 

Have you read The Inquisitor’s Tale? Did you have any misgivings about the novel? What did you think of the storytelling style? Do you think audience its aimed at (Middle Grade readers) will pick this up? Leave all your thoughts below in the comments! I’d love to hear what you have to say about this novel!

 

Happy Reading!

*Disclaimer: None of my links on this post or on this blog are affiliate links. If I ever begin to participate in affiliate links, I will let you know. 🙂

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Me holding up a copy of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star and smiling

Hello! NicoleLynn here 🙂 I am a twenty-something avid reader & lover of all things bookish. I enjoy both coffee & tea, a good slice of pie and cuddling with my kitty. I haunt libraries, cafés & bookstores 🙂 Then I write about all these things! ♥

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