Thursday, February 05, 2015

Watermark by Vanitha Sankaran

Historical Fiction

Medieval France is a completely different world. A mother sacrifices herself to save her child, which turns out to be an albino. The nurse cuts out the child's tongue so that it can't speak any heretics or devilish words. The child survives and is called Auda. Auda's father is a paper maker and her sister is recently married. Auda has learned her letters and helps her father make the paper, though her sister wants her to marry and her father wants her to be happy and carry on his legacy. Life isn't that easy in France though. There are inquisitors roaming the country looking to persecute heretics. Anyone that acts or looks differently could be brought before the inquisitors, which puts Auda in danger.

The first half of this book is captivating. You immediately pull for Auda because of the circumstances in which she was born. You want her to prove the nurse wrong and turn her life into something positive. Auda starts to do this. She knows how to read and write, which is unusual for females at this time. She learns her father's business and starts to investigate adding a watermark to their papers to show the papers are made by them.

This is where things started to fall apart for me. Auda finds a love interest in Jamie, an artist, but it seems contrived for the purposes of giving Auda someone to lean on. Not surprisingly, she becomes a focus for the inquisition, but how she handles herself makes absolutely no sense and doesn't really seem to fit her character. She is disloyal to her employer for no real purpose and then throws herself in to d anger for no real reason.

The paper making part of this book was quite interesting. The heretic and inquisition part I didn't care for. It's unfortunate that the author didn't focus on the part where she seemed to have done the most research and craft the story around that without introducing other plot-drivers that seemed like after thoughts.

First Line: "Elena clutched her distended belly and tried not to cry out."


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