Review of Prisoner of the Inquisition by Theresa Breslin

by - August 11, 2011

Zarita is used to basking in the pampered lifestyle being the only daughter of the town magistrate affords; she is free to roam the town as she likes, consort with the son of a nobleman and spend her days studying the arts. Saulo's family have fallen on hard times, and when his father is hanged for an assault on Zarita he did not commit and Saulo is hauled off to be a slave at sea, Saulo swears revenge. But when Zarita's mother dies in childbirth, and the formidable and frightening Inquisition arrives in the area, a curtain of suspicion and brutality comes down on her old life for good. Saulo may believe that Zarita is his sworn enemy, but in a time when the whole of Spain is in turmoil, are him and Zarita each other's only hope of survival?

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This historical novel, set mostly in Spain in the 15th century, follows the journey of two very different characters, whose lives are strangely connected. Zarita is a very spoilt girl who unwittingly causes the execution of Saulo's father. Saulo himself is sent away on a ship, and as he grows up he plots his revenge against Zarita's family. The story is told from both points of view, Zarita tells of the horrors of the Inquisition and Saulo's of his life at sea.

With this, the idea of the two different stories should have been really interesting to read about but I found Saulo's half rather boring, and just dragged myself through it. No offense to Saulo but I didn't really want to know about life on a ship when the other tale was of the Inquisition and public punishment, every day more terror! I think this could have quite easily been just one story - Zarita's. I definitely would have enjoyed it more if it had.

Zarita's half involves a wicked Step-Mother, the loss of her mother and of course, what it's like to questioned by the Inquisition. Zarita, although spoilt, is a very likeable character for me because she does her best to help others, just like her Mother. When Saulo is sent away after his Father dies she goes out of her way to find his Mother and look after her in her final days. Her character just gets stronger throughout the book. Saulo, on the other hand, I can't really say much about. He's sold for some wine and then spends his next few years on a ship. It seemed like he kept forgetting that he was supposed to be blinded by revenge until it suited the author.

The last 150 pages just seemed to get get sillier with some rather ridiculous plot twists and an ending that made me groan aloud, it was so cheesy and sloppily written. I felt like I'd won a 500 mile race to be rewarded with a cheese sandwich. A mouldy one.


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