on August 22, 2011
Young Janna lives in a tiny cottage on the edge of the forest with her mother Eadgyth, the village herbwife. But twelfth century England is a dangerous time to be a woman and a healer, and the oppressive influence of the new priest and the jealous male apothecary can be felt throughout. When Eadgyth dies suddenly, Janna suspects her mother has been poisoned, and vows to find the killer and avenge her death. But the villagers and the Church are set against her, superstition and fear has warped the small community, and several people have explosive secrets they'll kill to protect. As Janna tries to unravel the mystery of her mother's death and the identity of her mysterious father, she realises that her own life is in danger, and her quest becomes more desperate.
Although I had never considered these to be crime novels, Janna does have to solve a murder and several other mysteries, and reveals great detective skills. The writing is suspenseful and the plot twists intriguing, yet it is not limited the crime genre - it is also a beautifully written story of Janna's coming of age, there are elements of romance, action and medieval English history woven in (some teachers even use it as part of the curriculum), and fascinating characters that are archetypally powerful - the healer, the maiden, the crone, the protector, the innocent, the villain - as well as totally engaging and true to life. I especially love the descriptions of English life in this period, the clash between the Old Ways and the Church, and the magical properties of the herbs that the wise woman and her daughter work with to heal people and protect their community. (Anyone who loves Juliet Marillier's beautiful books will love the enchantment of these.)
And Janna is a wonderful heroine. Not perfect by any means - she's hot headed and hot tempered, speaks before she thinks and is so stubbornly independent that it's often to her detriment. But she is kind too, and fiercely intelligent, with a thirst for knowledge and justice that compels her to leave all that she's ever known to set off on the quest that will unfold over the next five books - to avenge her mother's death, find her father, and discover her own heart... Each of the Janna Mysteries ends with the solving of an epic mystery - along with more questions, so you are left desperate to start reading the next one (even now, as I re-read them all)...
Although it's many years since I was a "young adult", this series will appeal to anyone who loves adventure stories with mystery, historical weight and a magical twist.
on May 9, 2011
Loved it, loved it, loved it. A fantastic series. Though slow in starting, Rosemary for Remembrance was a brilliant introduction to a wonderful series. I had already read the second book before buying this one, ( why oh why do Libraries only ever start off at the second book in the series, so frustrating), so I already knew who had committed the crime yet Felicity still managed to drag me into the story. Set in Stephan's and Mathilda's war in the early 1100's, the intelligent, stubborn but perhaps slightly naive heroine, Johanna (aka Janna), has adventures filled with love, mystery, war and 12th century herbal medicine in order to find her father and revenge her mother's death, with 'Rosemary for Remembrance' focusing on Janna's mother's actually death and Janna's subsequent investigation into the people who might have wanted her dead such as midwife Aldith, the village priest, apothecary Fulk, Lord Robert, Lord Hugh and Dame Alice's tiring woman, Cecily, as well as the mystery surrounding Janna's own birth.
This series is suitable for those thirteen and older since there is some discussion about sex although the word is never actually mentioned and there isn't any actually scenes throughout the book, but there is also an abortion within the book. However it is a brilliant series and a refreshing change to all the supernatural books out there. I highly recommend it to everyone.
on June 9, 2011
This entire series is a wonderful trip through history. Brilliantly written with amazing research you'll enjoy every page of the turns and twists in Yanna's life. You don't have to be a child to enjoy this series. If you love historical novels and are an adult you'll get just as much out of it.
Congratulations to Felicity Pulman on a wonderful, entertaining series
on March 24, 2013
As an author of YA medieval historical fiction (watch for the novel STEPHEN'S SWORD in the near future), I can honestly say that this book made me consider quitting, 'cause it's that good. A fun mystery, an engaging heroine, and solid historical detail in most every respect. A winner from back to front.