Historical fiction seems to be the theme for me of late – in my book narration projects, I mean. The novel, Jepp, Who Defied The Stars, by Katherine Marsh is no exception.
What I find fascinating in historical fiction is when the author does his or her homework and creatively weaves the information gleaned from that research into a great tale. In this case, Katherine Marsh has done the legwork and brought to light some VERY interesting characters out of history – characters I had previously not known existed. And that makes me happy. The book is targeted toward readers in high school. Even so, I didn’t mind learning a little and being entertained!
Basically, the story revolves around a dwarf (Jepp) who goes from country bumkin in Holland to a human toy at court in Brussels to an esteemed scholar on a remote island in Denmark. Of course, that is an oversimplification: the real story has lots of twists, turns, ups and downs. And the personal growth Jepp realizes along the way will speak to many of us, to be sure. But you don’t want me to spoil it for you.
Here’s a description from the book jacket –
Is it written in the stars from the moment we are born?
Or is it a bendable thing that we can shape with our own hands?
Jepp of Astraveld needs to know.
He left his countryside home on the empty promise of a stranger, only to become a captive in a strange and luxurious prison: Coudenberg Palace, the royal court of the Spanish Infanta. Nobody warned Jepp that as a court dwarf, daily injustices would become his seemingly unshakeable fate. If the humiliations were his alone, perhaps he could endure them, but it breaks Jepp’s heart to see his friend Lia suffer.
After Jepp and Lia attempt a daring escape from the palace, Jepp is imprisoned again, alone in a cage. Now, spirited across Europe in a henchman’s carriage, Jepp fears where his unfortunate stars will lead him. But he can’t even begin to imagine the strange, new world—with its beer-drinking moose, brilliant and eccentric master, and long-buried secrets about his own identity—that he’s about to discover.
Masterfully written, grippingly paced, and inspired by real historical characters, Jepp, Who Defied the Stars is the tale of an unusual hero and his extraordinary quest to become the master of his own destiny.