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A Novel of the Middle Ages

by Vanitha Sankaran


Born albino in Medieval France (1300 AD), Auda has lived for twenty years protected from the outside world by her father and older sister. She knows that the Church, especially its branch of inquisitors, keen on blaming those who are different from the norm for Nature's disasters and injustices, would consider her a witch and prosecute her if they found her.

Auda has survived thus far by keeping a low profile, but when constant rains bring floods and famine to her town and surrounding area, the inquisitors grow stronger. In their search for scapegoats, they find a culprit: the Good Men, a group of Christians whose unorthodox beliefs have earned them the label of heretics. When the inquisitors arrest Auda's father, believing him to be one of the heretics, Auda must reconsider her loyalties and come out of hiding if she wants to help him.

Watermark, whose title refers to the pattern papermakers left on their sheets to claim them as their own, is at its best when describing the paper-making process and life in a medieval town. But as a fiction story, it didn't work for me. Although the story is told in the third person, we see the world through Auda's eyes. Given the fact that Auda has never left her town, her point of view is either limited (which constrains the story) or jarring (when she shows a knowledge of places and people beyond what she could possibly know). I found Auda's actions and motivations confusing, her love story unrealistic and the plot an afterthought.

Nonetheless, Watermark is carefully researched; and if you like stories which are set in medieval times, you may want to give it a try.

The Book

Avon, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
April 2010
Trade Paperback
978-0-06-184927-5 / 0061849278
Historical Fiction / Medieval France 1300 AD
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The Reviewer

Carmen Ferreiro
Reviewed 2010
NOTE: Reviewer Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban is author of the award-winning YA fantasy novel Two Moon Princess [2007], recipient of the ForeWord Magazine Bronze Award for Juvenile Fiction. Its sequel, The King in the Stone, is scheduled for publication in 2010.
© 2010