A Cloud of Outrageous Blue

Vesper Stamper. Knopf, $19.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5247-0041-6
Following the deaths, by murder and childbirth, of her parents in 14th-century England, Edyth le Sherman’s brother arranges for the 16-year-old synesthete to become a working resident at a Yorkshire priory. Artistic Edie is reluctant to leave the familiarity of her small hometown, especially Mason, a stonemason’s son with whom she shares a flirtation. Under the stern, watchful eye of Sub-Prioress Agnes de Guile, though, Edie finds joy in a new friendship and in her duties preparing pigments in the scriptorium. She also struggles to conceal two secrets: her renewed relationship with Mason, who arrives to rebuild a chapel, and her synesthesia, which causes her to associate colors with other senses and fall into a trance while grinding lapis lazuli. One day, during prayer, Edie notices a panel of stained glass in the church that shows an image from a recurring dream that has haunted her since childhood. She begins to feel “something’s unfolding” and, as the Black Death begins its rampage, wonders if she’s part of something bigger. Though modern language (“longest winter ever”) can distract, Stamper’s (What the Night Sings) dark and well-researched historical tale moves swiftly, incorporating elements of the miraculous and affectingly punctuated with elegant watercolor illustrations in hues that recall illuminated texts. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 12–up. Agent: Lori Kilkelly, LK Literary. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/25/2020
Release date: 08/25/2020
Genre: Children's
Library Binding - 320 pages - 978-1-5247-0042-3
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