This is a book I would not even have
bothered with picked up if I had seen the English cover art. I was totally fooled by the French cover art, and it’s not the first time around.
A few years ago I had been tricked by the magnificent cover art by Pierre Mornet, this time around by another equally great cover by François Roca, a professional designer whom I had already noticed in many other books. (you can see other covers on this page)
I was immediately attracted to this haunting young woman whose mouth is hidden and kept shut by a tree, whose modest clothing (that could be of any period) is sad and blends into the cold and dark wooden background. It captures the atmosphere of this YA novel perfectly.
Told by Judith to an unnamed “You”, the novel is set in a puritan village in an undefined period, but probably during colonial America. Judith has been kidnapped the same day as her best friend was murdered and when she was finally back to her village, years later, she was mute. She has been a pariah ever since. People including her own mother see her as damaged goods and don’t trust her. Who has killed her best friend? Who has kidnapped her? She lives on the margins of the village life and watches in silence as the young man she always was in love with is getting married to another. Yet, the village has more pressing worries and attackers threaten all the villagers, but Judith has an idea to save them all.
I wasn’t quite comfortable with the lack of precise setting and the use of “you” at first. It was quite slow to start and jumping from one scene to another. I ended up liking it enough to finish within a few days, but if I had seen the original American cover art, my reaction would have been totally opposite. The ripped cover with bold red letters made me think of vampires, and the girl with lanky, bleached hair made me think of a high school drama. It’s such a weird choice!