Friday, July 28, 2017

Audiobook Review: Bohemian Gospel by Dana Chamblee Carpenter

So this series was an unexpected surprise. The Bohemian Gospel is mainly historical fiction with a little fantasy thrown in, but the subject matter was wholly unique. Dana Chamblee Carpenter sets the story of our heroine, Mouse, to begin in medieval Bohemia and Prague. Mouse is a convent-raised orphan with special abilities and mysterious origins, particularly when it comes to the dubious identity of her parentage. 

Originally I thought The Bohemian Gospel was a historical romance, but it is not a romance at all. Instead, you will follow Mouse as she comes of age and attempts to accept her special abilities and difficult life. Mouse's tale is not a happy one. She is constantly battling her faith, and faces untenable and heartbreaking situations. I was drawn into her story and captivated by the setting and strife as the story progressed. The ups and downs of Mouse's relationship with Ottokar really put me through the wringer, and I had to stop listening for a while when everything played out with Nicholas. Carpenter has a talent at drawing the reader in and I needed a break from all the feels.

Mouse's faith and mysterious parentage are a constant undercurrent throughout the story and you will revisit the issues again and again. There are numerous plot twists and conflicts that will keep you guessing, but lots of historical details that I had to go look up because I wanted to know more. One of the most interesting aspects of this series is the Codex Gigas, also known as The Devil's Bible. I had never heard of this book before and I was astonished to learn that it was real, so I spent quite a bit of time reading about this wondrous book and its origins as the story unfolded. Don't worry - its not a demonic bible. It's actually an actual bible that included a multitude of other knowledge, including the nearly complete history of Bohemia. It got it's name because of one of the illustrations in the book.

That brings us to the second book of the series, The Devil's Bible, which takes place many years after The Bohemian Gospel. I won't say much about the second book as I don't want to spoil the first one. But Mouse's parentage was revealed and we learn more about the fictional origins of the Codex Gigas. I found all of that too be extremely interesting and I was drawn into the story once again. While The Bohemian Gospel was Mouse's coming-of-age, The Devil's Bible is more of a tale of the battle between good and evil. I enjoyed the new characters that we met, but my heart was still with Ottokar and Nicholas back in the Gospel. I enjoyed the build up and suspense as our characters were on the run and racing a clock to prevail in the epic battle, but the ending felt unfinished to me. Perhaps this was to leave a path for another book? I will be estastic if so.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of The Bohemian Gospel that I received from the publisher, Tantor Audio. I borrowed The Devil's Bible from my library via Hoopla. I recommend this book to readers who like unique historical fiction and fantasy.

Series:     Bohemian Gospel #1
Pub. Date:June 14, 2017
Publisher:Tantor Audio
Narrator:Justine Eyre
Length:10 hrs 45 min

Series:     Bohemian Gospel #2
Pub. Date:July 4, 2017
Publisher:Tantor Audio
Narrator:Justine Eyre
Length:10 hrs 35 min

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