Friday, February 25, 2011

Book review: Belle's Song by K.M. Grant

Belle's Song by K.M. Grant (Published by Quercus Publishing, February 3, 2011)

Belle is the only child of a bellfounder living in London in 1387. Her mother died when she was young and Belle knows she is likely a disappointment to her father, for she cannot help him with his trade like a son could, and she is terrible at the traditional female chores of cooking and cleaning house. To make things worse, when she is fifteen her daydreaming contributes to an accident that leaves her father crippled. When she meets a group of pilgrims staying at the inn next door, including the the famous writer Chaucer, she decides she will travel with them to Canterbury to pray that her father will be healed.

When she joins the pilgrimage, Belle meets many people, including two attractive young men - Luke, who is Chaucer's scribe, and Walter, the son of a wealthy knight. She also meets the horrible Summoner Seekum, who forces her to spy on Chaucer for him. There is trouble in England, for many are unhappy with the young king and would like to see him overthrown, while others support the king and would even seek the help of their enemy, France, to save him. During her journey, Belle encounters adventure, danger, romance, political intrigue, terrible secrets, and more.

Honestly, I have really mixed feelings about this book. I did really like the historical setting and the basic plot. But I think there was just too much going on for one 300 page book. There was the pilgrimage, the political intrigue, the love triangle which included a very dangerous secret, some sort of family feud that led to a jousting tournament, blackmailing a bunch of really horrible people, and Belle's issues of self-harming and being rather.... obsessive compulsive is the right term, I think (which I was very surprised to see in a historical novel). I think this could have been a really good book but it just became too complicated and didn't need all of this. If you are really interested in the historical setting you might enjoy this book but I wouldn't really recommend it to occasional readers of historical fiction.

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