Review of The Beatryce Prophecy

The Beatryce Prophecy
by Kate DiCamillo; illus. by Sophie Blackall
Intermediate, Middle School    Candlewick    256 pp.    g
9/21    978-1-5362-1361-4    $19.99

As this rich and absorbing novel opens, Brother Edik finds a sick girl in the barn of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing, curled up with the “demon goat” Answelica. The child recovers from her fever but has lost her memory, remembering only her name, Beatryce. Brother Edik and the other monks hide Beatryce and her talents as well: the ability to read and write, a “beautiful and agile mind,” and a “dangerous will.” Beatryce, it is revealed, is the girl named in a prophecy, destined to “unseat a king and bring about a great change.” As Brother Edik tells her, “It is dangerous for you to be who you are…And so you must pretend to be someone you are not.” The king and his counselor are on her trail, so she agrees to disguise herself, to have her hair shorn and wear a monk’s robe. Soon, however, she must enter the world and, with Brother Edik, ­Answelica, and the orphan boy Jack Dory, begins a journey to take charge of her own destiny. The king’s machinations are effectively delineated in bold font in brief sections to remind readers that evil is afoot. The pairing of two-time Newbery Medalist DiCamillo (The Tale of Despereaux, rev. 9/03; Flora & Ulysses, rev. 9/13) and two-time Caldecott Medalist Blackall (Finding Winnie, rev. 9/15; Hello Lighthouse, rev. 3/18) is a magical alchemy. Blackall’s ­black-and-white pencil drawings and ornamented initials convey a medieval setting, while DiCamillo’s elegant, honed prose weaves a beautiful tapestry of true friends, a feisty goat, and a road to a castle where destiny will unfold.

From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider
Dean Schneider teaches seventh and eighth grades at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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