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Life is challenging in the 13th century, to say the least, what with war, disease and intolerance running rampant throughout Europe. However, 16-year-old Babylonne has an extra few trials to survive, like never having met her father, losing her beloved mother in one of the wars, and now having to live with her strict and abusive aunt and grandmother. And then it gets even worse --- they want to get rid of her by marrying her off to an old man who isn’t quite right in the head.

Babylonne has had enough, so she decides to run away and join up with the noble knights. She will offer to cook and clean for them, and help them with their grand and gallant quests. For added safety, Babylonne chops off her hair and disguises herself as a young boy. But her future doesn’t quite play out as she plans.

Almost immediately, she is cornered by a Catholic priest named Isidore who claims to have been a friend of her father’s and wants to take her under his wing and protect her. First of all, Babylonne had been conditioned by her aunt and grandmother to believe that all Catholic priests are horrid and untrustworthy. Second, she also had been told that her father had raped her mother, so she is no fan of his either. To say the least, Babylonne has no interest in staying with Isidore. However, after further argument, she decides it could be safer traveling with a priest than by herself, and she can leave him at any time. So the two set out for their destination.

During the next few days, Babylonne starts realizing how misinformed she’s been, how special her parents’ relationship was, and how kind Isidore is. For the first time since she was a baby, she begins to feel the love that a child would get from a parent and looks forward to staying with Isidore, learning to read and write, and being safe. But then they run into the very knights Babylonne had set out to find. They force her to come with them, and she ends up in yet another violent siege, trapped in a castle and assaulted by the French. While witnessing even more horrors and blood, Babylonne swears to return to her new friend, if she can escape with her life.

Catherine Jinks has researched the Middle Ages extensively, so she is the perfect escort back to the 13th century, in all its glory and horrors. She has an adventurous and spirited writing style that shines brightly right into her feisty and determined heroine. Jinks writes with such animation and energy that her audience will experience Babylonne’s tragic and heartfelt adventures almost as if looking through the teen’s own eyes. Readers may be familiar with this author from her numerous other novels, and they won’t be disappointed in her newest exciting journey.

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on October 18, 2011

by Catherine Jinks

  • Publication Date: November 11, 2008
  • Genres: Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick
  • ISBN-10: 0763636509
  • ISBN-13: 9780763636500