Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Gr 8 Up-When a headstrong young woman accused of witchcraft befriends a deaf young man believed to be possessed by the devil, a turbulent yet deeply satisfying romance evolves. Richly realized and evocative. (May) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Jordan (Winter of Fire) transports readers to a craggy seaside town for this sweeping story of a blossoming friendship between a young woman outsider and a young man whom the townsfolk deem mad. Marnie arrives in the village of Torcurra to live in a rundown and isolated cottage with her new husband, Isake Isherwood, the son of a nobleman. After a mere two days of marriage, Isake dies in a freak accident for which the villagers unfairly blame Marnie, whom they suspect is a witch. In this hostile environment the parish priest and an outcast boy Marnie dubs Raven are the young widow's only allies. She realizes that Raven is deaf rather thanÄas the superstitious townsfolk believeÄpossessed by demons, and develops a sign language with which the two young people communicate (fueling suspicions of witchcraft). Jordan blends a zealous supporting cast with the flavor of Hawthorne with the societal forces of Hardy as she plays out Marnie's tortuous fate. A few elements may be familiar to adult readers (e.g., a mysterious hidden treasure), but Marnie's ordeal at the hands of witch-hunters and Raven's efforts to learn to communicate make for riveting reading. The land itself takes on a hypnotic presence, culminating in a primal dance on a Stonehenge-like stage. Even if readers see a few developments coming, the anticipation is pure pleasure. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 8 Up-A historical novel set during the Middle Ages. Marnie, 16, is forced to marry an older man due to a series of family misfortunes. After just two days with her drunken husband, she prays that something will happen so that he will no longer desire her. That very day he falls from a ladder to his death. In terror, she goes to the village priest, crying out that she is at fault for Isake's demise. Three old women overhear her and set the gossip mill in motion. As these tragic events swirl around her, Marnie gets to know Raver, a young man viewed as an idiot by the villagers, who beat him mercilessly to "whip his devils out." Marnie pities him at first, and fears him a little, until she deduces that he is deaf. She renames him Raven and invents "hand words" that become their own private language. Their relationship, plus the strange signs they constantly make, convince the villagers that Marnie is a witch who must be destroyed. This highly absorbing story has well-realized characters that come fully alive. Marnie is smart, independent, and strong willed. Raven is quick and intelligent, but naive. As their friendship deepens into love, an innocent but very real sensuality surfaces. There are rich details here about living conditions in the Middle Ages. The powerlessness of the peasants and the superstitions fostered by the Church, including a trial for witchcraft, are vividly portrayed. This is an ageless story about the power of love that should leave a satisfying and lasting impression on its readers.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 8^-12. In this dramatic novel set in the Middle Ages, 16-year-old Marnie, recently widowed, is committed to making the best of things in her new small village by the sea. When she befriends the local madman, Raven, whom the villagers believe to be possessed by the devil, she, too, is shunned; only the town priest offers friendship and support. However, Marnie discovers Raven is not mad but deaf, and she develops a unique system of hand gestures to communicate with him. As their friendship grows, so do the townspeople's suspicions: they decide that Marnie is a witch; yet Marnie perseveres, determined that neither she nor Raven will become victims of ignorance and hatred. This well-written novel is an irresistible historical romance that also offers important messages about love, acceptance, respect, and the tragic repercussions of closed minds. Marnie is an appealing character, admirable for her open-mindedness, integrity, and courage. Eloquent, descriptive prose draws readers into the period, and through memorable, well-defined characters, Jordan effectively illustrates the timeless dangers of targeting individuals for being different--of allowing fears, not reason, to dictate behavior. --Shelle Rosenfeld
Horn Book Review
Widowed after only two days, sixteen-year-old Marnie is viewed with distrust by the local villagers. When she befriends a deaf boy and invents a signed language, the villagers, encouraged by Marnie's hateful brother-in-law, accuse her of witchcraft and demand a trial. Although the story is unwieldy and overwritten at times, Jordan's adept characterizations, combined with romance and suspense, will draw teen readers. From HORN BOOK Fall 1999, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
Against a medieval setting far away and long ago, Jordan crafts a passionate and sensuous tale. Marnie, 15, comes to Torcurra, newly wed to a lord twice her age. He brings her to a tumbledown cottage that belonged to an ancestor, and in two days falls to his death in a drunken stupor. The villagers are deeply suspicious of Marnie's role in his death, and become more so when she befriends a wild boy believed to be possessed by demons. Marnie finds out that Raver, as he is called, is actually deaf; she renames him Raven and begins to communicate with him in rudimentary sign language. Her only friend is the village priest, who finds her recalcitrant but full of goodness. Beyond some bodice-ripper elements, Jordan adeptly conveys the rhythms of ancient country life, of the tides and the plantings, of festival and gossip; also nicely spun out is the blossoming romance between Raven and Marnie. Fire and sweetness, the pulse of daily existence, how to cope with differences, and the several kinds of love are all present, wrapped in a page-turner to keep readers enthralled. (Fiction. 12-14)