The sounds, smells, and voices of medieval France come to life in this beautifully crafted tale. Be forewarned that the setting and the language are somewhat lofty, with lots of instances of "'twould" and "'twas" in the text. There's enough fantasy and magic in The Book of Boy to engage readers looking to slip into another realm, but enough reality to give kids an idea of medieval European life. Did people of 14th-century Europe really worship dried body parts?
Author Catherine Gilbert Murdock's characters are not all good or all bad. For example, Boy possesses the innocence of a country shepherd, but he has the ambition of a self-serving world traveler. Shadowy Secundus is a man out of time, whose mysterious wisdom drives the journey. There's much more going on behind the scenes than the reader is given access to, but that's one of the things that makes the book successful. One question remains: Where are the females? The saints are male, the monks and priests are male, the protagonists and villains are male. In the wings are women who care, serve, criticize, terrify, or are lost to disease, like the plague. Otherwise, The Book of Boy is an entertaining, surprising, thought-provoking peek into the pockmarked past.