The Scribe by Antonio Garrido

I'm a sucker for a historical novel with a plucky female heroine, and The Scribe by Antonio Garrido is just such a novel. It takes place in Germanic lands of the Roman Empire in 799, and the main character is a young woman who has been trained to read and write, which was very uncommon for women of that time period. It's not even particularly common in the book for anyone to be literate- literacy is for upper class people or monks, for the most part. This book was provided to me in ebook format by the publisher for review.

Theresa has been raised by her father, who is a scribe, and her stepmother. She is an apprentice to a parchment-maker and wants to be tested to become a full-fledged craftsperson, but a lot of shit goes wrong on the day of her test, and it becomes obvious that not only will she not become a craftsperson, she needs to leave town immediately. This is the story of her adventures, making it on her own in a time and place where it was safe for no one, much less a woman, to be in a vulnerable position.

As she moves from place to place and situation to situation, the cast of characters she meets runs the gamut from earthy to godly, from prostitutes to monks. I really like the way the author deals with certain coming of age moments she has as a woman, acknowledging her femininity without making her a victim of it. I don't know much about this period of history, so I couldn't say whether this is historically accurate. Even though it's historical fiction and not fantasy, I think fantasy readers might like it too. It almost seems like fantasy since the historical period is so far removed and so different from our own. Overall, The Scribe was very entertaining to read and I had a hard time putting it down.

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