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Jepp, Who Defied the Stars

by Katherine Marsh

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2461386,198 (3.83)9
"Jepp, a teenage dwarf living in 16th century Europe, leaves home to seek his destiny"--

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Brilliantly done. I love the way this played with my expectations (with the protagonist and the mention of the Infanta, I was expecting a riff off of Oscar Wilde's tragic fairy tale). However, it was wonderfully written: lovely language, beautifully plotted, and a good underlying theme. ( )
  slmr4242 | Oct 16, 2019 |
Set in the Spanish Netherlands and Denmark in the late 16th century, this story follows Jepp of Astraveld. Based on historical truths, we follow Jepp as he leaves the village inn he was raised in to become an entertainer in the court of the Spanish Infanta, and later, a court jester. All the while his goal is to become something more, to discover who he truly is, and as the title suggests, to defy the stars that keep him from doing just that.

Upon opening Jepp, Who Defied the Stars for the first time I was struck first by the sweeping writing style that Katherine Marsh uses to weave her tale. Although the book is based in history, it reads similar to a fairy tale most times. Descriptions of court finery and luxurious living quarters dazzled me. Gorgeous landscapes, filthy cities, and a populace that consists of giants and automatons, poured onto the page in equal measure. While Jepp's story may not always be a happy one, it is definitely easy to get swept up in. Watching his journey becomes addictive in the best way possible.

In fact, it is that very journey that drew me so far into the book. Despite his stature, Jepp's story is big in a lot of ways. A coming-of-age story that anyone can easily relate to. I found myself rooting for him as he struggled to overcome the obstacles that were put in his path. Celebrating when he fought against what others called destiny, to pave his own way in the world. It takes a great person to come through all of this and end up a better person at the end of it. Lucky for the reader, that's precisely the type of character that Katherine Marsh has written.

I remember that when I first saw this title I wasn't sure if it was for me. It generally takes me a pretty fair amount of time to get fully invested in a historical fiction novel. However Jepp, Who Defied the Stars proved to be so much different than what I expected. A gorgeous mix of historical elements and a sweeping fantasy story line, this is a book to get lost in. I highly recommend you add this to your reading list. Be prepared to fall in love. ( )
  roses7184 | Feb 5, 2019 |
This young adult book is historical fiction set in Europe in the late 1500's. Jepp, the main character, is a teenaged dwarf who leaves his mother for new experiences and work. And he certainly has many new experiences ranging from being humiliated to being elevated to a job of importance to finding love. The one thing that he can't seem to find is his family. He searches for information about his true family throughout the book. In the end the lessons he learns become much more important than finding his relatives.

I, as an adult, feel the book has much to offer because Jepp overcomes much adversity, both because of his size and his position in life, to become a productive and caring person. The book also gives the reader some insights into life in the 1500's. Unfortunately, what the book probably won't have is a market for the average young adult reader. It is a refreshing change from the current topics of YA literature today, but as such, the book may need a "good sales pitch" to make its way off of the shelf.

( )
  Rdglady | Nov 20, 2018 |
Very interesting historical story, but with a very sudden ending that didn't ring true. ( )
  ute_wilkinson | Jul 12, 2014 |
Despite all the horrible things in his life, Jepp overcomes all the odds.
  dcollins7984 | May 21, 2014 |
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Average: (3.83)
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