Jepp, Who Defied The Stars by Katherine Marsh
This beautiful novel about a dwarf in seventeenth-century Europe is captivating from the very first page. Jepp is a delightful character and his tale of growing up within a harsh and uncertain world is utterly compelling.
The author, Katherine Marsh, is an Edgar Award-winning fantasy writer and that sense of the fantastical is conveyed in this book, which, although true to historical detail, seems to be set in a world completely alien.
Dwarfs baked into pies, a beer-drinking moose, a nose made of copper, astronomers using the stars to predict the future – these notions and many more give this story a sense of the exotic.
At the centre of this bizarre world is Jepp, a warm-hearted young man who is constantly asking the big questions: who am I, where did I come from and where do I belong? Along his tortuous path of discovery, he finds love and the answer to the question of whether we can truly decide our own fates or if it’s already written in the stars.
Publishers Weekly gave Jepp a starred review, calling it ‘an epic search for love, family, respect and a destiny of one’s own making’, and it’s my favourite young adult novel of the year. It is recommended for ages 14 and up, and will make you laugh and cry, no matter what your age.
Angela Crocombe is the Children’s Book Buyer at Readings St Kilda, mother to a three year-old, and the author of two books on sustainable living, A Lighter Footprint: A Practical Guide to Minimising your Impact on the Planet and Ethical Eating.