Another gem from the bargain bin!

Curse of A Winter Moon by Mary Casanova
Book # 14 for 2009

I read this book thinking it would be something to add to my BookMooch inventory, but I ended up liking it and now I don’t want to give it away.

I got it, hardbound, for P20 at Book Sale and from the summary it appeared to be a werewolf book so I decided to read it, and it turned out to be more of a historical novel.

Marius’ brother John Pierre is born on Christmas eve, and the people of Venyre believe he is marked with the curse of the loup garou — the werewolf– ad will one day unleash his evil in the village. With their mother dead and their father busy at his smithy, Marius is appointed as John Pierre’s guardian as the village keeps close watch for sinister changes in John Pierre.

One fateful winter turns their life upside down as the small village grows obsessed in hunting down the enemies of the Church, and Marius must gather all his courage to keep his family safe.

The eerie cover art confused me into thinking it was a paranormal story, but John Pierre doesn’t seem to show signs of lycantrophy; he just happened to be born under unlucky circumstances — superstitious beliefs dictated that a chiId born on Christmas Eve indicates he will grow into a werewolf (go figure). Instead, I found something better: a well-researched historical novel that homes in on an important lesson that the world seems to never learn: tolerance.

The novel is set in 16th century France, where the Protestants, known as the Huguenots, were persecuted, and hundreds of other “enemies of the Church” were executed, most of them accused of being witches, sorcerers or werewolves. The book vividly captures the tensions of this period from the point of view of innocent children caught in the middle and it’s quite poignant — the boys remind me of Crispin and Basilio in Noli Me Tangere, especially as the abusive clergy is one of the book’s themes.

The book’s one downside is that the story is left hanging at the end, and I wish I could read more. I am hoping the author writes a sequel, because there are very few well-written historical books for young readers, and even fewer on 16th century France for the YA genre.

My copy: hardcover with dustjacket, bought from Book Sale MCS

My rating: 4/5 stars

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