Please be aware that this review contains some mild spoilers. Do not continue reading unless you are fine with being spoiled.
It had been a while since I dived into historical fiction, and The Passion of Dolssa had been in my TBR pile for about six months. I have a habit of not paying too much attention to blurbs and initially thought this was some kind of romance novel. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Passion of Dolssa is told from numerous points of view, but Dolssa (a girl with a divine gift) and Botille (a matchmaker and tavern-keeper) are the most constant. I found it far easier to be drawn into Botille’s story—the more grounded of the two—and I was then able to use her life as a measuring point for Dolssa’s situation.
The story is slightly slow to start, but the one-sided interview style at the beginning does add a nice element of intrigue. The interviews also further highlight the inquisition in 13th Century Spain—a fascinating and sad part of history that doesn’t get much coverage in modern literature for young adult audiences.
Disparity of knowledge was a powerful tool in this book; with some characters widespread through the country and others deliberately kept in the dark, the tension was automatically increased by what each character did and didn’t know about the bigger picture. Every word that was left unsaid in someone’s point of view had me wanting to know more.
The only reason that this doesn’t get a perfect score from me is because of the epilogue. There was a sudden jump forward to 2014, then back to the 13th Century. The two-page 2014 chapter interrupted the flow too much, undercutting both the preceding chapter and the final part of the epilogue, both of which would have been stronger endings for the book without the modern interlude.
In all other ways, The Passion of Dolssa was an incredible read. It’s one of those books that stays with you long after the last page, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from Julie Berry.
I was provided with a copy of this book by HarperCollins Australia in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.