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the passion of dolssaWhat: The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

Who: HarperCollins Australia

When: April 1st 2016

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Harper Collins Australia for review.

From the author of the award-winning ALL THE TRUTH THAT’S IN ME comes a book that will make you wonder if miracles really are possible.

‘I must write this account, and when I have finished, I will burn it.’

Buried deep within the archives of a convent in medieval France lies an untold story of love, loss and magic – and the two girls at the heart of it all.

Dolssa is an upper-crust city girl with an uncanny gift. Branded a heretic, she’s on the run from the monk who burned her mother at the stake and wants her executed. Botille is a matchmaker and a tavern-keeper, struggling to make a living and keep herself and her sisters in the good graces of their seaside town of Bajas.

When their lives collide in the forest, Botille rescues Dolssa and shelters her in the tavern, where an unlikely friendship blooms. Botille does her best to nurse Dolssa back from the brink of death and hide her from those hunting her down. But all of Botille’s tricks, tales, and cleverness can’t protect them forever, and when the full wrath of the Church bears down upon Bajas, Botille’s good intentions could destroy the entire village.

From the author of the award-winning ALL THE TRUTH THAT’S IN ME comes a book that will make you wonder if miracles really are possible.


The Beginning

I’m going to be completely honest here (as I always am in my reviews) and say that I wanted to DNF The Passion of Dolssa after reading the first page. Now, that might seem a little hasty, but I’ll explain it a little more. When I read the blurb for The Passion of Dolssa, I thought it was going to be historical fantasy. I mean a girl with healing powers running away from an evil guy sounds quite fantastical to me. However, when I read the first page, I realised that The Passion of Dolssa was not actually an historical fantasy, but rather an historical religious novel.

I have no interest whatsoever in religious novels. I just don’t. So when I discovered that the book I had thought was a fantasy was a religious novel, I lost all interest in reading it. BUT I felt like I had to give it a go. I usually don’t DNF books until page 50, just to give it some time to improve, I guess. So onward I went with The Passion of Dolssa.

The Middle

I got to page 50, and then read to about page 100. The beginning of The Passion of Dolssa was weak for me, partly because I had been so thrown by the fact that it was nothing like I expected.

But something kept me going. I liked Botille, who is generally the main narrator of this book. I say generally because The Passion of Dolssa is one of those books with about a million narrators. For a book named for her, Dolssa only had a handful of chapters from her perspective. The evil friar (Lucien) far outweighed her perspective.

Botille was sassy and adored her family, and had an ‘I hate you so much, you turd’ relationship with a new boy in town (who she obviously was attracted to. You don’t think about someone that much if you don’t like them at least a little). Her chapters were the most engaging, and I have to say that there was quite a bit of intrigue when it came to Lucien’s hunt for Dolssa. I wondered if there would be a happy ending for anyone in this novel, or whether everyone would be killed because some dudes thought it was God’s will.

Towards the end, I was quite enjoying The Passion of Dolssa, even though we had started off so rocky. I cared about the characters, and I found that I wanted everyone to be okay in the end. I wanted them to be happy.

The End

And then everything turned around again. So many things happened in the end of The Passion of Dolssa. None of which I was particularly happy with. At first, I did think there was a happy ending in store for some of the characters, and then in the epilogue this was completely ruined. And also left so very, very open. I know that this is probably quite reminiscent of historical documents (this book is supposed to be a discovery of an historical account), but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t highly annoyed by the fact that I didn’t actually know what happened to certain characters.

The Verdict

Overall, The Passion of Dolssa was an interesting read for me. From wanting to DNF to quite enjoying the story to being utterly annoyed by the ending. I would recommend this novel to people looking for an historical novel with heavy religious themes, and those who are comfortable with not knowing what happens to characters.

© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: murder of a parent (burning), physical assault, murder (burning and struck by arrow), alcoholic parent, heavy religious (Christian) themes, and poverty in this novel

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Posted on: April 22, 2016 • By: Chiara

16 Responses to Feels on the Beginning, Middle, and End of The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

  1. Kim says:

    Wow, great review! I actually read a sampler for this one and like you, I was also thrown off because I don’t like reading anything that centers on religion, so I just decided then that I didn’t want to read the full version. Now I understand why the ratings for this book are so high!

    Kim @ Divergent Gryffindor: BLOG || VLOG

    • Chiara says:

      Thanks, Kim! I am not a big fan of books with heavy religious themes so it was hard for me to get into. I don’t think you’re missing out by not reading the full version, especially if religiosity is something you don’t really like reading about!

  2. I don’t read religious books, either, so it’s very unlikely I’ll pick this book up. Before I saw some reviews, I thought this was historical fantasy, too, but knowing it’s not is disappointing. Also, the fact that Dolssa doesn’t have an many chapters as the villain when she’s technically the protagonist?! Eh, that doesn’t sound like something I’d enjoy, to be honest. Great, informative review, Chiara! But I think I’ll give this one a pass.

    • Chiara says:

      I think it could have been so great if it was historical fantasy! But alas. And yeah, i thought it was pretty weird that the titular character hardly had any chapters, as well. Thank you, Mallory! I don’t blame you.

  3. Kelly says:

    I’m not anti religion by any means, but as a personal choice I prefer not to read books with political or religious agendas and would have struggled with this one too. Botille does sound like an intriguing character, but I’m not sure that’s enough to carry a storyline especially when you’ve got so many narrators too, Such a shame, as a historical fantasy it sounds as though it would have had an incredible amount of potential. Wonderful review poppet and sorry you couldn’t have enjoyed this one a little more <3

    • Chiara says:

      I am never a particular fan of books with heavy religiosity so to have this book based on it almost entirely was not a good sign for my enjoyment. I liked Botille, but like you said, she wasn’t really enough to carry the whole book, sadly. Thanks, Kelly!

  4. Everyone seems to think differently about this one, which is interesting. I’ve seen a few reviews from people who have loved it and a few from people like you who were disappointed with it. But I think I’m going to still give it a try because this is a time period we don’t usually see at all in YA historical fiction, which makes me really curious. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ♥

    • Chiara says:

      it was definitely unique, and I haven’t forgotten about it even though it’s been so long since I read it! I think if you go in knowing what the iffy elements are then you might enjoy it more, Zoe! Thank you, lovely <3

  5. Thanks for sharing – I haven’t actually heard of this one, though I HAVE heard of the author. Sorry it didn’t really work for you. I’m not a huge fan of religious based books but it does depend. I’m not sure I’d really enjoy this though with the open ending and all that.


    • Chiara says:

      No problem! I would definitely suggest reading the author’s other title. It was incredible! I am never a big fan of books with heavy religious themes so I don’t think this one was ever going to be one I loved, sadly!

  6. Valerie says:

    So I’ve heard a couple of people saying the same as you! And honestly I was never interested in this in the first place, so I probably won’t be picking it up anytime soon. Plus the fact that it seems soooooo long, I think I would also be bored. Also it seems like you’re not the only one who likes Bastille, because one of my friends commented on liking her (even though the book was about Dolssa).

    Awesome review Chiara!!! Hope your next read is better :)

    • Chiara says:

      I kind of wish I’d been able to know more about this before I committed to it, haha. It was very hard going to get to the end, that’s for sure. Botille was awesome! I would have liked a whole book about her, to be honest.

      Thank you, lovely!

  7. I’m kind of MORE interested now that I know it’s historical religious. I find reading about religions in the past, their practices, and their beliefs absolutely fascinating. Plus I loved All the Truth That’s in Me so I’m keen to get to more of Julie Berry’s work.

    Shame it didn’t entirely mesh with you though :/

    • Chiara says:

      Oh, awesome! If you’re into historical religious aspects then I think you would be keen on this one, Bec!

      I’m disappointed, as well. I guess I just thought it would be something a little different >.<

  8. I’m actually quite surprised that you managed to finish this one, particularly with how slow it was and the religious elements. I’m glad you got caught up in the story finally but open endings are definitely frustrating. Thanks for the breakdown, Chiara!

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