I've been looking forward to this one since I started blogging back last August because it was initially scheduled to be published in December but it was delayed till this March. It follows the story of young Belle, the only daughter of a bell maker who decides embarks on a pilgrimage after she meets Luke, the son of an alchemist and scribe to the famous poet Chaucer. She hopes for a miracle if she travels to Canterbury: that her father will be able to walk again. On the pilgrimage she meets many new and interesting people such as handsome Walter, the son of a rich and influential knight but she'd rather not have met the disgustingly horrid Summoner Seekum who blackmails her to spy on Chaucer for him. Whilst the pilgrims make their journey, unrest is stirring up all around England as people turn against each other because they differ in opinions on the new young King. Some would do anything they can to support him whatever the risk and others would be just as quick to betray him.
Belle was an interesting character because she had lots of different sides to her, which made her seem very three dimensional and real. Sometimes she was impulsive and headstrong, whilst other times she came across as fragile and vulnerable. For example she has an issue with self harming and becomes obsessed with counting things in threes, which I think translates to a modern day obsessive compulsive disorder. It was unusual to see this in a historical fiction book because it hasn't been explored that much in the genre but I suppose people had the same emotional problems then. However, overall she was a caring and brave girl who was willing to risk everything for those she loved.
I loved the love triangle between Belle, Walter and Luke because it had a unique spin on it. It might appeal to those of you who feel that love triangles are becoming a bit of a cliche in the YA genre now. Although, I felt that the romance was a bit under developed and I would have liked to see some more romance and less of the evil Summoner.
I also really liked the historical setting because there aren't all that many medieval YA books about and having Chaucer as one of the main secondary characters was fascinating as the author included The Cantebury Tales in some parts. I've never really heard much about the royal court at that time either so I enjoyed learning about that too.
One of the only things I didn't like as much was that it sometimes felt that there were so many plot lines and things going on that they weren't all able to be expanded on or explored as much as I would have liked. They included : the pilgrimage, the uprising against the King and political intrigue, the evil Summoner Seekum blackmailing Belle, Belle's self harming and the love triangle. Whilst all these ideas are fantastic and helped to keep the plot fast paced, I thought it just started getting a little bit complicated for a relatively short 300 page book and each of the ideas would have been a good story in their own right.
Verdict: Belle's Song is a sweet book filled with dangerous secrets, adventure, wonderful romance and political unrest that I found really interesting and fast paced. Despite some of the issues I had with it, I enjoyed it and would reccommend it if you like the premise.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Thank you to Quercus Books for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.