Hunting a Mystic

The Passion Of Dolssa by Julie Berry, Viking, April 2016 – Review by Larry Yoder

9780451469922This historical fiction is set in what is now called the Midi-Pyrenees of France, not far from Toulouse. This drama captures the Inquisition following the Albigensian Crusade which killed every Cathar that could be found. The Roman Church feared the continued existence of what they thought of as heresy and sought out sympathizers, who were burned, drowned or cast out as outlaws.

At 17, Dolssa is a Christian Mystic in love with Jesus. She is deemed a threat to correct order and sought by the Pope and the Vatican. After failing an inquisition, Dolssa becomes a an outlaw, hunted for burning at the stake. On the run, she is taken in by some villagers who help her to hide, but the Inquisition is determined and merciless.

The historical research behind the story is evident and real people are interwoven with fictional characters, bringing a sense of high drama to the reader. The book brings up questions of religion, piety, the political captivity of spiritual reality by political power, the use of power to subjugate people, the limits of friendship. and the reasons for which one may be willing to die, or live. All wrapped in a story of suspense and adventure. I found the book to be terrific!

A good read for 16 and up.

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