Book Review: Lent by Jo Walton

Lent by Jo Walton

Tor, 2019  
Format: Kindle ebook

From the Book Description: 

From Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award-winning Jo Walton comes Lent, a magical re-imagining of the man who remade fifteenth-century Florence—in all its astonishing strangeness

Young Girolamo’s life is a series of miracles.

It’s a miracle that he can see demons, plain as day, and that he can cast them out with the force of his will. It’s a miracle that he’s friends with Pico della Mirandola, the Count of Concordia. It’s a miracle that when Girolamo visits the deathbed of Lorenzo “the Magnificent,” the dying Medici is wreathed in celestial light, a surprise to everyone, Lorenzo included. It’s a miracle that when Charles VIII of France invades northern Italy, Girolamo meets him in the field, and convinces him to not only spare Florence but also protect it. It’s a miracle than whenever Girolamo preaches, crowds swoon. It’s a miracle that, despite the Pope’s determination to bring young Girolamo to heel, he’s still on the loose… and, now, running Florence in all but name.

That’s only the beginning. Because Girolamo Savanarola is not who—or what—he thinks he is. He will discover the truth about himself at the most startling possible time. And this will be only the beginning of his many lives.

What I Thought

For those of you who haven’t read Jo Walton before, she plays around with history in some really interesting ways in many of her books. In Lent, she fiddles with the biography of Girolamo Savanarola, a deeply religious leader in 15th Century Florence. 

The first retelling sticks fairly closely to history as I remember it (warning — I’m no expert), but as is typical for Walton, the book becomes much more intriguing halfway through when Walton ditches all of those expectations she’s so carefully built up in you, and reboots the story so that the real fun can start. I found the mechanism she used to explain the reboots in this book particularly intriguing. 

One of my favorite reads from this past summer.

Who Would Enjoy This Book

  • Readers who enjoy alternative history with a smattering of the paranormal

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