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Jepp, Who Defied the Stars

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  990 ratings  ·  254 reviews
Is it written in the stars from the moment we are born?
Or is it a bendable thing that we can shape with our own hands?

Jepp of Astraveld needs to know.

He left his countryside home on the empty promise of a stranger, only to become a captive in a luxurious prison: Coudenberg Palace, the royal court of the Spanish Infanta. Nobody warned Jepp that as a court dwarf, da
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Hyperion Book CH (first published October 1st 2012)
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Finale by Becca FitzpatrickThe Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle HodkinBreathe by Sarah CrossanAmber House by Kelly  MooreVelveteen by Daniel Marks
October 2012 YA Fiction
28th out of 41 books — 66 voters
Finale by Becca FitzpatrickAfter Forever Ends by Melodie RamoneThe Mark of Athena by Rick RiordanThe Lost Prince by Julie KagawaIced by Karen Marie Moning
Best books of October, 2012
62nd out of 108 books — 248 voters

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Community Reviews

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Let me start off by saying that if 1 teenage girl read this for every 10 that read Twilight, the world would be a much better place.

I'm not just mindlessly bashing Twilight. It's a perfectly good romance. But the inspiration and empowerment you get from this book is one I have never read before. It honestly makes you feel as if you could defy the stars.

One of the biggest reasons why this book is so amazing is that Jepp, the main character, feels like a very real person. Not real in a "leaping ou
Lyda Phillips
I am perhaps too close to this wonderful novel to judge it impartially since the author is my critique partner and I have read Jepp through many iterations. But I can truly say Jepp, Who Defied the Stars is a unique tale told straight from the author's heart.

Jepp, a young dwarf born at the dawn of the 17th century, is taken from his comfortable, loving home to become a pampered, but imprisoned, court dwarf in the household of the Spanish Infanta in the Spanish Netherlands. There Jepp is humiliat
Brandy Painter
Originally posted at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh would not have been a high priority read for me were it not chosen to compete in this year's SLJ Battle of the Books. The premise intrigued me, but I probably would have waited until my library received a copy. BoBs prompted me to buy it and push it to the top of my TBR. I'm grateful for this because I LOVED it. (BoB, this more than makes up for making me buy Life: an Exploded Diagram last year.)

I forgot who suggested this book. I think it was more that it was getting a lot of press, than a specific person suggesting it. This came very close to ending up in my "books that I can't finish" category. I enjoyed the historical fiction, especially about Tycho Brahe. The historical part about dwarves was interesting as well.

However, I did not enjoy the first part of the book at all. Jepp is quite the whiner. Yes, he has a lot to cope with but the unrelenting self pity was really too much. I d
I think I would read more historical fiction if more of it was like JEPP, WHO DEFIED THE STARS. But part of JEPP, WHO DEFIED THE STARS charm is that it is an unusual story, charming in its lack of concern with the commercial. Katherine Marsh has written an appealing bildungsroman that will stand out.

Jepp is a dwarf living happily in his mother's inn, when a nobleman comes through and entices him to go and become a court dwarf for the Infanta. (Yes, I did have The Decemberists' "The Infanta" stuc
Rarely do I read a book that is written with such advanced skill as to evoke images of great poetry, while at the same time possessing a level of ease allowing even the most reluctant of reader to be swept into the story.

All of this leaves only one word to describe Jepp, Who Defied the Stars.


Now because you probably want more from a review than just one word I’ll say a bit more about the book. Jepp, Who Defied the Stars is one of the best written books I’ve read in a long while. It is fu
Originally published here.

At seven years old, Jepp of Astraveld stood barely over three feet tall. That’s how travelers to his mother’s countryside inn between the Protestant north and the Spanish Netherlands knew he was a dwarf. At fourteen, when a Spanish Don from the Infanta’s court visited the inn, Jepp wasn’t much taller. On the plus side, the Don’s visit came with an invitation for Jepp to join the Infanta’s retinue of court dwarves. So with his mother’s approval and the promise of books a
Kayt Colburn
I cannot stress just how fantastic this book is, and how perfectly it seemed to fit into my life when I read it. As you travel with Jepp on his journey to find out who he is and where he came from, you find yourself asking the same questions he does - do the stars hold our fate, or is it in our hands? The answers you find may surprise you. The historical elements added a unique flavor, and the use of language was gorgeous, "literary alchemy" is the only was I can describe it. I highly recommend ...more
Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I’m not opposed to it, nor am I a great fan of it. I like the silhouette of Jepp, because his garb indicates it to be of a historical setting, and I do like the starry background (and of course, the title font is lovely). The style just looks a little kiddish for a young adult novel.

Characters: “Plucky” is not the word to describe Jepp, but he is one of those protagonists that, despite all of the injustices he faces (and he faces a great many), he manages to persevere and
This was a fun read because it was different that what I feel has become 'popular' in YA/children's literature.

This book is classified as historical fiction, but after reading the authors notes at the end, it is a little more fiction and a little less historical for me personally to give it much merit as an historical book. But still, it is interesting to learn about that time period, a period that doesn't typically get written about.

The book is set in 1597 and spans many places across Europe. T
Margo Tanenbaum
I'm fascinated by the character of Tyrion Lannister, the cunning dwarf in Game of Thrones. You don't find a lot of literature with a dwarf as one of the heroes (or perhaps in Tyrion's case, an anti-hero). Perhaps my interest in Tyrion is why I picked up this book by Katherine Marsh about a teen-aged dwarf in 16th century Europe, but Jepp's story quickly engaged me on its own terms.

Jepp is living a relatively happy and protected life at his mother's inn in the countryside, until a wealthy courti
Barb Middleton
Thunderstorms of flashbacks have been pummeling me this month. Done well, I don't really notice them. Done not so well, and they make cumulonimbus clouds build inside me. I prefer an author using flashbacks in the present and working them into the plot; this way a sense of urgency remains and the pacing doesn't slow down. Alas, while I enjoy Marsh's writing and character development, I didn't care for her flashbacks and parts of the plot.

Jepp is a dwarf in the 1600's who lives happily in a villa
In the late 1500s, Jepp leaves his home and his beloved mother to seek his own fortune as a dwarf of the Spanish Infanta's court. As the court fool, he endures daily humiliations as entertainment, and though he longs to return home, he cannot. He's the property of the Infanta, and a prisoner of he court. When tragedy strikes, he is caged, sent far away to the famous Danish astronomer Ticoh Brahe. Jepp's life has changed yet again, but will he ever control his own destiny? Or is it written in the ...more
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers

Being a court dwarf is no easy task. I know because I failed at it.

In the small village of Astraveld, just to the south of Utrecht in the dangerous crossroads between the Spanish Netherlands and the Protestants to the North, a young boy named Jepp is born. In the safety of his mother's well-loved tavern, Jepp grows to be a considerate and learned - if self-taught and isolated - young man. Though he is a dwarf and subject to taunts from the occasional trav
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Janice (Janicu)
Review originally posted here

The Premise: This is the story of young dwarf Jepp, who grew up in Astraveld, a crossroads between the Spanish Netherlands and the Protestant North. Loved by his mother, who runs a bustling inn, Jepp is treated like a prince and is fiercely protected. It is a good life, but when he is fifteen years old, a man comes by the inn, offering to bring Jepp to the court of the Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia and her husband, Archduke Albert of Austria. Eager to see the world
Lyd Stew
What an interesting read. I really didn't think I would like it... a strange story about a dwarf and astrology, but it is so much more, and I found myself totally carried along with him on his interesting journey. It was difficult for me to put down. I liked that it didn't over-hint at things that would be brought to light later. It didn't insult your intelligence, and it also kept some things an interesting mystery throughout a lot of the book. I liked the main character and the idea of a combi ...more
This was a very sweetly written historical fiction for young adults. Strangely I picked this and City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte up at the same time and they both feature the same historical dwarf. However, Jepp is treated much more gently in this book. While he goes through some very difficult times, he ends up growing better and stronger for having had them. My only regret is that everything ends so neatly wrapped up. There is no lingering conflict, no moral dilemmas. It's a typical happy e ...more
Molly Lazarus
Did you ever wonder what life would be like as a dwarf in the late 1500's? This book takes place in 3 far-flung settings: Jepp's mother's inn, the court of the Infanta, and Tycho Brahe's palace where scientists studies astrology and astronomy. I recommend it to young adult fans of historical fiction.
Katherine Marsh's tale of Jepp, a "court dwarf" in the Middle Ages, makes for fascinating historical fiction, especially since it's based in fact. She also poses the question: is our life already mapped out, written in the stars? Or do we make our own fate? This is what Jepp must decide as he leaves home and journeys all over Europe (not always by choice). A wonderful, fascinating, tender read!
I really enjoyed listening to this book. The reader had a very pleasant voice and I liked the pace of the story.

This is a story about a dwarf named Jepp (pronounced Yepp) and his journey to figure out who he is and if he is a slave to his stars of destiny.

This story was beautiful and poignant. I was pulled in by Jepp's honesty,naivete, kindness, sadness, determination, forgiveness and many other qualities.

In the two years we see in his life, he experiences loss, humiliation, friendship, hards
This novel was generally an enjoyable read wi some fun and different characters; however, there was enough that took me out of the moment that I think it ended up as a 3 - 3.5 star read.

Jepp is a dwarf living in the late 1500s in Europe. He grows up loved by his mother in a small village, but is eventually taken to the Court of the Spanish Infanta to serve as a court dwarf. He is treated well, generally, but forced to denigrate himself in performances that highlight his short stature before the
Usually I avoid historical fiction because as a rule I don’t enjoy them as much as other books as I don’t find the story or characters as interesting, but I decided to read this book and I am glad I did as it was an interesting book that I enjoyed reading.

For me the first part was a little difficult to get into and I didn't really care much about the characters, I think this was because there was some scenes set when Jepp is working in the Infanta's court and then others when he was travelling a
Ms. Schutte
Who knew that the lives of 16th century dwarves were so interesting and potentially perilous? Apparently Katherine Marsh, but certainly not me before reading this book. The story starts off slow, and it would take a dedicated reader to stick with it and keep up with the wide cast of characters, but the payoff is definitely worth it.

Jepp showed up at the door of an inn as a babe and lived a happy life as an adopted innkeeper's son and the apple of his small community. Sure travelers stared, but
Alex Stark
A historical fiction that follows the difficult life of a court dwarf in 16th century Europe, this book takes some of the least known but most fascinating characters in history and presents it in a deep, powerful story.

I couldn't recommend this book any more highly. It deals with so many down-to-earth and timeless themes: being different in a world that doesn't accept it, trying to understand grief and loss, questioning if life is predetermined or a matter of choice. Reading Jepp's story, I felt
I read everything and I read for every reason. Some books I read as a distraction, others I read to a distraction. Most books I learn from, some I just have fun with. Some books are boring and I use them to help me fall asleep. And then sometimes I read a book so beautiful, I don’t want it to end. Jepp Who Defied the Stars was such a book.

I took an astronomy class in college. I did terribly, for the most part. I am an awful math student, and for some reason it never occurred to me that astrono
Ms. Rosas
*Copy provided by Net Galley*

My copy expired before I could finish but I'm marking it as read and reviewing based on what I have already read. (I only had 100 pages left.) I will definitely finish at some point because it was just that good but I wanted to get a review out there. When I started this book I wasn't really sure what to expect. I wasn't entirely sold on the premise and I wasn't sure how I was going to like a book about a court dwarf in the 16th century.

I am happy to report that I wa
Aug 14, 2013 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
Jepp, a teenaged dwarf at the close of the sixteenth century, leaves his quiet life at his mother’s inn to see the world and have a finer life at the palace of the Spanish Infanta. The promised finery, however, comes at the price of humiliating work aiding the court jester. Eventually Jepp finds himself sharing a room with a beer-drinking moose and reduced to picking up his master’s prosthetic nose. Although his horoscope promises many things, it isn’t until Jepp starts to take action that his s ...more
Joan Roll
This young adult book is historical fiction set in Europe in the late 1500's. Jepp, the main character, is a teenaged dwarf who leaves his mother for new experiences and work. And he certainly has many new experiences ranging from being humiliated to being elevated to a job of importance to finding love. The one thing that he can't seem to find is his family. He searches for information about his true family throughout the book. In the end the lessons he learns become much more important than fi ...more
Jessica Harmon
This book is not like a kid's version of Game of Thrones, despite the dwarf main character and all the noble/royal other characters. It had a lot of historical details, which I did appreciate. It is a mostly fictional story though, so don't use it for a research paper or anything. The lives of court dwarves were pretty grim, and this book doesn't gloss over that, though the main guy, Jepp, does manage to "defy his stars" and make a better life for himself. This book went fairly slowly up until c ...more
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