Kathleen C. Perrin

on tour

August 14-25, 2017

the secret-of-the-abbey cover

 

The Secret of the Abbey

(historical fiction)

Release date: June 3, 2017
Self-published at Langon House

565 pages

ISBN: 978-0692877975

Website | Goodreads

 

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

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I have previously presented you the first two volumes in this series, The Keys of the Watchmen and The Sword of the Maiden, and now time has come for the third and final book: The Secret of the Abbey. As many of you know, lots of readers are participating this week in Bout of Books 20. Yesterday challenge was to rewrite the synopsis of the book from the perspective of a character. So this is the synopsis I’m going to use for this book, not the official one.
The book is a YA historical fiction/fantasy/time travel, so I tried to write it from the point of view of young Katelyn and her modern style of talking:

Wow, life is getting hectic here! Believe it or not, I was sent back twice in time, to 15th France, and I even married to a young man called Nicolas! AS for me, Katelyn, I’m actually just an American teen, just turning 18, and I have had already so much life experience. I was actually asked to organize the defense of Mont Saint Michel against British soldiers!

It turned out okay, by a miracle of grace. I was relieved to come back to my modern time, I don’t starve here and people smell better, for the most part, BUT my betrothed had to stay behind, plus he was very much injured and in the coma.
So I can’t wait to find a way to get back to him! I really miss him.
AND I just learned I inherited a house in France, AND my English teacher submitted one of my essays to a publisher, and it was accepted! So I’m suddenly getting big bucks and an excuse to go back to France, to discover my house, which is where? On Mont Saint Michel of course!
I have the feeling I’ll be able to meet my love again. I will probably be asked to go help the inhabitants of the island again, but I wonder in what time period, and if I’ll be able to go with Nicolas.

Thank God I can take with me some modern devices that will be super useful I am sure, like a stun gun, a headlight, and stuff like that. I just need to be sure I have enough batteries or some rechargeable ones through the sun, as of course they didn’t have electricity back then. Easy to forget, and that would be a disaster if I were relying only on my iphone!
I’m really eager to know what will happen next, and why really I was entrusted with those special missions, and what this big secret is behind it all.

 As you may know, I rarely read YA and fantasy, and time travel books. But amazingly, these elements all work beautifully here, as the author combine them with suspense, into a historical novel. There are so many things to love in this book:

  • each chapter is introduced with quotations from 15th French authors and a passage from the Bible

  • the adventures Katelyn has been through in volumes 1 and 2 are aptly summed up, so it’s easy to reconnect the elements of the story or even just to jump directly in volume 3

  • I enjoyed a lot the character of Katelyn, all along the series. It’s nice to see how she grows, and also how she has to discern, as she often does not know whom to trust, while being aware there’s a deadly enemy roaming around

  • I enjoyed the structure of the novel before both main characters were reunited: at the beginning, chapters alternate between Katelyn’s perspective (in the first person singular) and Nicolas’ (in the third person). Each chapter ends at a very suspenseful moment, but you need to read a chapter on Nicolas before knowing what happened next to Katelyn, and vice versa. This was exactly the structure used by Murakami in 1Q84, and I really enjoy that way of building suspense.

  • the combination of old and modern age is so well done, including in the choice of weapons or ways of escaping tough situations – from poisonous yew berries to a stun gun! It may sounds weird, but believe me, it DOES work!

  • as a subplot, there are interesting modern family dynamics going on along the main plot, as well as some going on as well in the 15th century plot

  • the book presents the best explanation I have ever read on the roots of the 15th century French Wars of Religion, especially in chapter 19. Better and so much less boring than the history lessons I received in 7th grade, I think, on the topic!

  • there’s even a cool way for the author to introduce and modern things to visit on and around Mont Saint Michel today! (chapter 24)

  • the ending is very satisfying

  • I enjoyed the main theme of sacrifice and forgiveness, love and patience, with the battle between good and evil, as illustrated in this passage:

Secret of the Abbey p240

 

A few things that didn’t work so well for me:

  • the book is too long. 515 pages worked fine for volume 2, but 565 is too much (even for me!!). Some passages could really have been shortened.

  • chapter 47 and around, where Katelyn finally learns the background to the secret of the abbey. The book is a novel using fantasy elements, so I’m not going to develop a theological treatise here, and will treat this book as what it is, fiction. I can only say I felt sad and shocked to find such a twisted interpretation of Scripture, leading to totally heretical content.
    If I needed one, that would be another great way of seeing how separation between Western and Eastern Christians in 1054 lead the West to isolate itself from its roots and develop weird ideas about God. No wonder so many people ended up losing faith and seeing God as an invention of man!

  • and an exactitude: as so many times in Medieval mysteries alas, a “vow of silence” is mentioned here page 75. This is not accurate: Saint Benedict does NOT mention any vow of silence in his Rule(written in the 6th century), and that the monks here would have followed.

VERDICT: Suspenseful and satisfying ending to a wonderful YA historical novel on 15th France. Awesome blend of fantasy, where old and modern combine to teach great life lessons.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kathleen C. PerrinKathleen C. Perrin
holds bachelor’s degrees in French and Humanities
from Brigham Young University
and is a certified French translator.
Besides being the author of The Watchmen Saga,
she has published several non-fiction articles, academic papers,
and a religious history about Tahiti.
Kathleen has lived in Utah, New York City, France, and French Polynesia.
She and her French husband have spent years
investigating the mysteries and beauties of his native country
—where they have a cottage—and have taken tourist groups to France.
The Perrins have three children and currently reside in Utah.

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