Wonderful books: The Janna Mysteries (2)

October 17, 2011 at 3:23 am (Favourite books) (, , , )

I reviewed books one to three of The Janna Mysteries by Felicity Pulman here

Here are books four and five, with the sixth to come soon…

Willows for Weeping

Book four in a magical six-book series

I love this series – it’s so magical and fun, with a good dose of mystery and a teenage protagonist who has to solve a crime (or two) as she continues her quest to find her father and avenge her mother’s death. At the end of book three Janna was surprised to find herself enjoying life in the abbey, where she had found friendship, learning and a sense of purpose as a healer. But her quest is more important to her than her own happiness, and so, having finally learnt to read and with some new clues to her father’s identity, she leaves the security of the abbey and heads out on the road to Winchestre with some pilgrims, determined to track down her dad. They’re a rag tag bunch, each having their own intriguing story, beliefs and motives, and Janna isn’t sure who she can trust (and she learns some hard lessons when she reads a few people the wrong way). There’s plenty of action – early on they stumble across a dead man carrying a message that could change the fortunes of the king, one of the pilgrims is murdered inside the circle of Stonehenge, and as Janna gets closer to the truth of the culprit, danger swirls ever nearer. As in all the Janna books, the heroine is smart, kind and fearless, yet she is also flawed, with a quick temper and a naivity that gets her into trouble but makes her all the more endearing. All the characters are interesting and multi-dimensional, making you feel deeply for them, and the historical figures and true events combined with the imagined lives of others creates a captivating story. As in previous instalments, the author manages to have all the mysteries solved by the end of each book, while also opening up new questions that leave you desperate to read the next one! I first read this book more than two years ago, and was devastated to learn that number five and six were indefinitely delayed. When it was announced recently that the final two in the series were about to be published, I read the first four books again in preparation, and they were just as enchanting and satisfying the second time around.

Sage for Sanctuary

The long-awaited fifth book in the Janna Mysteries series

There were a few years between this book and its predecessor, and many fans have been waiting anxiously to discover what Janna would do next, and whether her quest to find her father and avenge her mother’s death would be fulfilled. None should be disappointed, for this is another beautiful, intriguing story, and adds so much more to Janna’s character, her choices and her life. It opens in medieval Winchestre, where Janna is awaiting the return of her father, a wealthy and influential man whose identity she has just discovered, but who knows nothing of her existence, from Normandy. It looks like she will meet him soon – but within the first few pages Janna’s fortunes take a turn for the worse. Her purse, containing proof of her identity, her link to her father and all her money, is stolen, and she ends up having to work in a tavern just to survive. As the story unfolds there are many mysteries, and many dangers, that plucky young Janna must face. She becomes swept up in a royal scandal, the assassin who tried to kill her some time ago returns and tries again, and she finally meets her father – and her new family, who hate her with a passion that looks like it could lead to murder.

I was swept up in the action from the first page, and was excited that not only does Janna find her father in this book, she also realises which of the two men she has loved for so long is the one she truly wants – it would have been too cruel if we’d had to wait for the next book for that one! Janna’s decision is slowly and gently arrived at, and the process she goes through to realise the truth of her heart reveals a new maturity on her part. Of course there are many obstacles put in her way (and she may not be able to marry him anyway – a dilemma that is left for the next book), but she has decided at last. I was surprised to read one Amazon review that said her decision between Hugh and Godric was sudden and unexplained, for it was not at all. Janna does much soul searching, and learns much about herself and others, while also solving several crimes, continuing her herbal medicine work and becoming clearer about what she wants to do with her life. I loved this book as much as I loved the previous four, and can’t wait for the final instalment!

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