By Vanitha Sankaran
Avon A (2010), Paperback, 368 pages
Rated 5 stars of 5 possible.
Watermark is the story of a young woman, Auda, who is different than others because she is albino and mute, and her struggle to survive in the middle ages. Ignorance and superstition are common place in Auda's time; she must combat these enemies, along with the Inquisition and society's senseless fear of anything that's different. I found the map of France, included in the front of the book, to be quite helpful.
I love the way this story unfolds, starting with the drama attendant upon Auda's birth and then, what seemingly passes for a normal life, until Auda has become a young adult. The true details of history and paper making included in the story as well as the carefully developed characters and their actions make this novel a page turner. There are both kinds of characters in this story; those you love and those you love to hate... still, I wasn't entirely prepared for the shocking ending... and, no, I'm not gonna tell... well, okay I'll just say this: it wasn't completely unexpected, but I did wish someone else had turned out to be Auda's betrayer.
In some books, the supporting addenda are almost as interesting as the main story. This is especially true of Watermark. In addition to the great story, and the aforementioned map, my copy of Watermark contains:
- An author's note that I recommend to readers finishing the book,
- A glossary of words originating in five other languages which were used in the book and which may be unfamiliar to many readers,
- A chronology of important events in the middle ages, and
- A selected bibliography for readers who may wish to read more about the historical events and influences behind the novel...
I highly recommend this intriguing novel to lovers of historical fiction, and to those looking for something different to read. This review has been simultaneously published on Amazon.com, Dragon Views and LibraryThing.