Review posted August 7, 2021.
Alfred A. Knopf, 2020. 307 pages.
Review written October 12, 2020, from a library book
Vesper Stamper’s illustrated young adult novels are amazingly evocative. Let me say that again: They’re illustrated young adult novels. The illustrations add a dreamlike quality to the book, as they did in What the Night Sings.
This one was set in medieval England about an orphaned girl who recently lost everything and was sent to a priory – just in time for the plague.
This book had lots of death and dying, so despite the dreamlike quality, it wasn’t exactly pleasant reading. I also have a prejudice against fanatically evil religious characters, and this book had a couple of those. So by the end, I didn’t enjoy this book nearly as much as I thought I would at the beginning. I didn’t quite follow all the plot choices either.
But as a book talking about how a large group of women lived together in the middle ages, with information about illuminating manuscripts, the book was lovely. Especially before they started dying.
Our orphaned main character was a synesthete who saw colors when she heard sounds. That sort of thing was thought to be demonic visions at the time, so she’d learned to keep silent about it. But it also gave her extra love for art and illuminated manuscripts.