The Inquisitor’s Tale
I like this book very much, and I can easily see the committee discussing it very seriously. It’s strong in virtually every single element that pertains to it–plot, character, setting, style, theme, and accuracy–and yet I’m feeling slightly underwhelmed on a personal level when it comes to plot and theme. The characters in this book are good, but they represent types to me more than flesh and blood people. Since I’m not a character-driven reader, this doesn’t bother me at all, so long as the plot is amazing. The plot is good, but it’s episodic, and structurally there’s really nothing interesting about it aside from the fact that it takes umpteen people to convey it to the reader. So while the storytelling is solid, and the sentence level writing is good, I’m still looking for something that screams “most distinguished” to me. I love the idea of the theme, but still don’t find it particularly interesting, especially when you stack it alongside THE PASSION OF DOLSSA which was published this year for an older audience, but is very similar in a number of respects. Then, too, how does it compare to the amazing field of historical fiction published this year for younger readers–ASHES, MAKOONS, FULL OF BEANS, THE HAUNTING OF FALCON HOUSE, and WOLF HOLLOW? I’m probably sounding more negative about this one than I really am. I can buy an argument that this is one of the top ten books of the year, but I’m not sure how it makes the top five. As I mentioned, I definitely think that I have probably placed unfair expectations on this book, and I think that listening carefully to arguments in favor of the book, and then rereading it will definitely enhance my opinion of it. But like I said, I’m not sure if it breaks my top five.
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About Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Caldecott Medal, the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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