Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Apprentice's Masterpiece - Melanie Little

15th Century Spain is a multicultural hub where Jews, Muslims, and Christians can coexist. Soon, however this will all change. Under the throne of Queen Isabella, Spain's people are forced to become Christians or face death. Even people who convert to Christianity face scrutiny like the Benvenistes, a former Jewish family of scribes. In a world full of spies, the family constantly fear for their lives. Then, one day, a slave by the name of Amir is brought to the household. While the rest of the household welcome him, fifteen-year-old Ramon is suspicious. Who is Amir, and can he really be trusted?

Told in verse, The Apprentice's Masterpiece is a story that should transport readers to a time period unlike their own. I, however, found myself bored most of the time. Part of the reason is probably because of my unfamiliarity with 15th century Spain. Initially, I thought this novel would be a great way to learn about the time. Not too mention, the summary sounded promising. Unfortunately, it soon became apparent, that without a clear background, I would not feel fully transported to the time period. Melanie Little provides readers with a prologue, so they will know about the time, but personally the prologue just was not enough.

One of the most bothersome parts about the book was knowing that if the story was not in verse, I would have enjoyed it so much more. I mean the parts that were not in verse (the prologue, epilogue) were good enough. While verse may work for Lisa Schroeder's books, Little's story of the Spanish Inquisition requires so much more explanation and depth, which verse simply does not provide. Despite my complaints, however, The Apprentice's Masterpiece did have some highlights. My favorite parts involved Ramon's Christian girlfriend (for lack of a better word). I also liked how Little switched the story from Ramon to Amir and back to Ramon. The novel shows evidence that Little is a talented writer, but for me, the verse just did not work. Also, I feel that if I knew more about the Spanish Inquisition, I would have enjoyed the story more.

The Apprentice's Masterpiece will appeal to readers who enjoy learning about the Spanish Inquisition.

Related Links
Melanie Little's bio + The Apprentice's Masterpeice Q&A
Annick Press

I received this book from Annick Press.

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