Title: The Passion of Dolssa
Author: Julie Berry
Published by: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication date: April 12th 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
“Guard your tongue to guard your life.”
The Passion of Dolssa is set in thirteenth century France, during the period when the Catholic Church would go around burning heretics and those who helped them, claiming God would know his own people and they might as well burn entire villages that harbored heretics. Dolssa is proclaimed a heretic for her faith and is forced to run from her home or fear being burned at the stake. When a young matchmaker finds the dying runaway, she takes Dolssa in. With the help of her sisters and the village’s vineyard owner’s nephew, the matchmaker hides Dolssa. But the village needs Dolssa and she cannot hide for long from them or the Church.
I have mixed feelings about The Passion of Dolssa. On one hand, until page 100 or so, I would have said this book didn’t even match its summary. It was confusing, the characters weren’t incredibly distinctive and Dolssa’s ‘magic’ wasn’t what I was expecting. On the other hand, it’s well written, the relationships between people were clearly outlined and I ended up feeling very invested in their stories.
The history behind this story is laid out in the final chapters and it is there that I truly appreciated this book. I had a better understanding of the feelings and actions that took place throughout the story but I was also heartbroken over the conclusion. This book hurt me but that is maybe because it is a true reflection of that time period. It is a tale of friendship, faith, and acceptance and it really will rip your heart out. You won’t expect it to, but it will.
The Passion of Dolssa is worth the read, especially if you’re interested in history and that of women whose stories aren’t often told. This book gives a new look into the lives of people in the thirteenth century and the sacrifices they had to make to secure their own safety. The spirit of Dolssa and the lives she touched will stay with you long after you’ve finished this book and will indeed touch your hearts.