Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance

The Bohemian Gospel by Dana Chamblee Carpenter

Something about this book just captured my attention right away. Maybe it was the cover, with its medieval times look. Maybe it was the fact that this story combines fantasy, historical fiction, and the Devil. Either way, it’s been on my mind for a while and now seemed like the best time to get into this story (which has a sequel, by the way!) so here is my review:

13th century Bohemia is a religious place, where anything that defies God and the Church is considered a danger to humanity. This makes it a dangerous place for Mouse, a girl born with unnatural powers and an uncanny intellect. Some call her a witch, others call her an angel…. but Mouse doesn’t know who – or what – she is. When young King Ottakar shows up wounded at the Abbey, Mouse breaks church law to save his life. Astounded by her medical abilities, the King insists on taking her with him back to Prague as his personal healer. When Mouse arrives at the castle, she is caught in the midst of court politics. Soon, Ottakar and Mouse find themselves drawn to each other, as they work together to uncover the identities of those who are against him and unravel the mystery of Mouse’s identity. But when Mouse’s unusual gifts give rise to violence and strength, she is forced to ask herself if she is prepared for the future that awaits her.

This is a book that I still haven’t been able to pin an opinion on. There were so many things that I loved about this novel and I read this book in record time. However, there were also certain elements of the novel that didn’t work for me. Let me start by talking about the things I liked:

  • Mouse having powers was the thing that really drew me to this novel. I love fantasy and a female protagonist with “gifts” during a time period when people like her would be considered witches or worse …. well, that is my weakness!
  • I really liked that the author didn’t just focus on Mouse’s powers; she took the time to explore Mouse’s life, her emotions, and all of the other factors that influenced Mouse. It made Mouse come alive, made her more than just your usual protagonist trying to figure out her identity. Mouse falling in love, suffering, and rising from that was just as important to the story as her powers.
  • I liked the historical backdrop of the story a lot. This novel takes place in a variety of different settings and the author does a really great job transitioning from one to the other.
  • While the story has its slow points in the middle, it definitely ramps up closer to the end and it kept me on my toes until the very last minute. It was worth the dull stuff to get to that last page!

So now that I’ve covered the good stuff, here are some of the things I disliked:

  • Mouse’s character was not as strong as I would have liked. For someone who has badass powers, she didn’t really do much to discover them and I wasn’t too happy with the fact that she never properly embraced them.
  • The author made Mouse very submissive … and that bothered me a lot. I understand that she may have wanted to maintain some kind of historical accuracy, as the times in which this novel took place, there was no feminism movements…. but Mouse had POWERS! She really shouldn’t have been placed in such submissive roles, she should have been way more badass and strong. This really bothered me in the story and I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I had hoped because of this aspect.
  • The dull moments were … dull. If the author had included some magical power stuff, then it would have been a bit easier to get through those parts.

Overall, this story was gripping and original. I really enjoyed the overall plot and made my way through this book quite quickly. While there were some elements that I didn’t enjoy, the book was mostly amazing and I am definitely going to be reading the sequel!

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