The persecutions and superstitions of 16th-century France form the backdrop to this flawed novel. Marius, the 12-year-old narrator, watches over his younger brother, Jean-Pierre, after their mother dies in childbirth. Jean-Pierre's birth on Christmas Eve has cursed him as a loup garou, or werewolf. Casanova (Stealing Thunder) evokes Marius's ominous sense of danger, the ever-growing distrust of the ignorant townspeople and some interesting historical contrasts (i.e., reading the Bible on one's own was considered heretical). Despite the high-stakes plot, however, the spare development of even main characters diminishes the emotional impact. Particularly implausible is the evolution of Marius's father, a smithy whose supposed charms caused a noblewoman to give up her position to marry him; he silently coexists beside his sons for six years after their mother's death until the rapidly building animosity of the townspeople causes him to reveal his secrets and confidences. While the setting and conflict certainly highlight the corruption of the clergy and the growing influence of the Reformation, the novel's flat characters make this story curiously unenlightening. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This touching story of family loyalty and love is well written and has an interesting premise. The simple yet descriptive writing style lends itself beautifully to this story. It explores the relationships between various characters thoroughly, and although it is relatively short, the story conveys an atmosphere of intrigue and danger exceptionally well. Set in sixteenth-century France, a time of superstition and fear, of curses and sorcery, Curse of a Winter Moon is an exceptionally engaging book, and I enjoyed reading it. Biblio. Further Reading. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Hyperion/Disney, 138p, $15.99. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Ella Peterson, Teen Reviewer
SOURCE: VOYA, December 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 5)
Gr 5-8-Jean-Pierre was born on December 24, 1553, and his brother wonders if the infant was destined, like many babies born on Christmas Eve, to become a loup-garou, a werewolf. His mother's dying words, "Tell Marius to take good care of his brother," prove to be a challenge. People living in a small village in the French countryside are superstitious, and as Jean-Pierre's sixth birthday approaches, fear of werewolves, heretics, and witches is reaching epidemic proportions. Challenged by Huguenots, the Church actively encourages villagers to rid their town of these followers of the devil. Marius finds his world quickly crumbling when their father is arrested as a heretic and his brother captured. Unable to save his father, he makes an agreement with a self-serving abbot to devote his life to the Church in exchange for Jean-Pierre's safekeeping. When his sibling's body is discarded because he seems dead, the boy rescues him, and with the help of their uncle, the pair set off to start a new life. Marius is a convincing character, full of uncertainties and fears that he gradually learns to overcome as he shoulders great responsibility. Though events sometimes occur willy-nilly and at the convenience of the plot, the narrative is full of life (and death). A lengthy author's note explains the historical events that affect the story. A solid look at a period not often written about in novels for this age group.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Dark, medieval superstitions haunt the people of a French town in 1559. Marius's little brother, Jean-Pierre, was born on Christmas Eve, and the townsfolk believe that all such children will become werewolves. Told from the viewpoint of the 12-year-old Marius, the story personalizes an intense moment in history when medieval forces reacted violently against the coming Reformation. Marius struggles with the constant task of protecting his six-year-old brother whom he knows the people will eventually attack; yet he also wants to begin his apprenticeship with his father as a blacksmith. He later learns that his father can read and has become a Huguenot, one damned as a heretic by the Catholic Church. Already hesitant to accept the town's beliefs about evil, he begins to understand the true evil of superstition and repression when his father is captured and burned at the stake. Readers expecting a werewolf story will find a far more realistic and frightening tale that offers an intriguing counterpoint to the well-trod horror genre. Here the evil is not the supernatural, but fear of it. This brief tale works as an excellent, exciting introduction to a turbulent period in history. An afterword ties the real history of the period to the fictional story, with a bibliography for further reading. (Fiction. 9-14)
"An excellent, exciting introduction to a turbulent period in history." Kirkus Reviews
"A sharp and accurate picture of this brutal time period is brought to life in this story."