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Act of Faith

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England, 1640. Sixteen-year-old Isabella is forced to flee her home when her father’s radical ideas lead him into a suicidal stand against Oliver Cromwell’s army. Taking refuge in Amsterdam and desperate to find a means to survive, Isabella finds work with an elderly printer, Master de Aquila, and his enigmatic young assistant, Willem.
When Master de Aquila travels to Venice to find a publisher brave enough to print his daring new book, Isabella accompanies him and discovers a world of possibility -where women work alongside men as equal partners, and where books and beliefs are treasured.
But in a continent torn apart by religious intolerance, constant danger lurks for those who don’t watch their words. And when the agents of the Spanish Inquisition kidnap de Aquila to stop him printing his book, Isabella and Willem become reluctant allies in a daring chase across Europe to rescue him from certain death.

The sequel to Act of Faith will be published in 2013.

227 pages, Paperback

First published July 1, 2011

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About the author

Kelly Gardiner

15 books84 followers
Kelly Gardiner's latest series for young readers is a time slip adventure trilogy called 'The Firewatcher Chronicles': Brimstone(2019), Phoenix (2020) and Vigil (2021). Her previous novel was '1917: Australia's Great War', set in Flanders and in Melbourne during the First World War.
Her novel 'Goddess' was based on the life of the remarkable Julie d'Aubigny, also known as Mademoiselle de Maupin - a 17th century opera singer and swordswoman.
Kelly's other books include the young adult novels 'The Sultan's Eyes' and 'Act of Faith' (HarperCollins); and for younger readers, 'Billabong Bill's Bushfire Christmas' (Random House) and the ‘Swashbuckler!’ trilogy (HarperCollins): 'Ocean Without End', 'The Pirate's Revenge' and 'The Silver Swan'.
Kelly teaches writing at La Trobe University. She is also the co-host of Unladylike, a podcast about women and writing. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 44 reviews
Profile Image for Sita.
108 reviews59 followers
October 16, 2011
3.5

I don’t actually read Historical fiction that often and even though I like the genre I just don’t like many of the books that come out of it. I’m still trying to figure out if I liked this book or not. I read the book in one sitting, but by the end I didn’t feel that satisfied. Everything happened so fast, the problem was fixed and forgotten so quickly.

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I think that describes how I felt after completing the book... Not the pants thing though...

Because everything happened so quickly I felt that I didn’t have time to get to know the characters, the story was mainly based around the plot, not that that’s a bad thing, but I felt that the main character Isabella was missing something. Sure, she was a pretty cool heroine, she was stronger and smarter than a lot of girls back then but she just didn’t seem real to me. She was not jumping out at me.

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Okay, I have to admit. I really didn’t like Willem. I found what he thought of women annoying and he was a general ass.

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Plus the fact that his ass-ness really didn’t change was kind of a let down for me. But Isabella made up for his ass-ness with the fact that she was able to always come up with a good comeback.

I loved Master de Aquila as a character. He was just so passionate about books and freedom of speech! I liked learning about how dangerous just some of the thoughts thought in that time period could be.

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What I really didn’t like was the fact that the blurb gave the plot away it also made you think that there would be a bit of a romance between Isabella and Willem. No romance whatsoever, which was the main reason I actually picked up the book.

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Or non-existant...

This book is for people that love history and people that are looking for something new to read.
Profile Image for ALPHAreader.
1,089 reviews
July 23, 2011
The year is 1640 and Europe is on the brink of religious upheaval. Catholics in England are being executed, while other countries are burning ‘heretics’ at the stake unless they take up the Catholic faith. The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Spain (aka ‘The Spanish Inquisition’) ride to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms – beating and imprisoning those who go against the church and God.

It is the worst time to be an intellectual. And Heaven forbid a man of intellect should wish to share his knowledge with others – to put pen to paper and give life to his musings. But that is just what Master Hawkins does – a teacher and a scholar, he is also a talented author with a most popular (if banned) book called ‘Discourse on Liberty’. Except, Master Hawkins is not alone in his scholarly pursuits. He gets a helping hand from his daughter, Isabella.

Isabella pens letters to her father’s overseas colleagues. She helps him with his notes and engages in constant intellectual battles with him. She lives a happy life, content to be pushed to her intellectual edge.

But then Oliver Cromwell’s army marches. Her father is imprisoned and accused of blasphemous dealings against God. When Isabella helps her father escape the stocks, tragedy follows them in a shipwreck on the way to Amsterdam. . . Isabella is suddenly alone in the world, an orphan.

She is taken in by a printer – Master de Aquila, an old friend of Isabella’s father and another intellectual zealot. Aquila is also walking a fine line, printing scandalous and informative books. But it is here that Isabella finds her rightful place – helping to create the words that will change the world.

When Master de Aquila is kidnapped like her father was, Isabella and a printing apprentice, Willem, decide to fight tooth and nail to save their master and protect a book that could see him burn at the stake.

‘Act of Faith’ is the new historical young adult novel from Australian author Kelly Gardiner.

Gardiner’s new novel is a sweeping historical saga that takes readers from Cromwell-ravaged England, Amsterdam, Germany, all the way to progressive Venice. In between we read the tentative peace of the English countryside, the canals of Venice and the Jewish Ghettos of Verona. The novel is expansive and impressive, and with Gardiner’s eloquent words and literary flair she acts as fictional tour-guide – breathing life into these cobblestoned walkways and Ghetto communities.

The settings in ‘Act of Faith’ are wonderful and easy to fall into. But the true brilliance of the novel lies in our protagonist, Isabella. She is a wonderful heroine – out of step with her times, she is a whip-quick scholar who has lived her life being encouraged and nurtured in her intellectual pursuits, regardless of her sex. She finds brilliance in the printed word, and is inspired by the idea that people’s thoughts will be immortalized in between the precious pages of books.

Isabella has such a wonderful voice. She is at once very aware of the constrictions around her – terrified by the treatment of her father and running scared at the thought of further retributions against intellectuals. But still Isabella can see that the treatment of scholars and the word of the Church are at odds and causing unfair repercussions against those who love God, but not the limitations of the pope. Isabella is the best sort of heroine to read – she’s fearless regardless of her terror, she speaks though others try to silence her, and she thinks for herself even when others try to cloud her thoughts.

The other brilliance of the novel comes in Gardiner’s meticulous recounts of printing and book production in the 1600’s. We read about this scandalous enterprise – when printing the wrong sort of book would lead to a fiery end. As Isabella becomes fascinated with the process of editing, translating, correction, and typesetting, Gardiner treats readers to some interesting insight into the world of the first bibliophiles. Anyone who loves books and worships at the altar of the printed word will find Gardiner’s explorations fascinating and uplifting – to read about these pioneers of knowledge who fought tooth and nail for freedom of speech, when it wasn’t an absolute right. This is the truly uplifting and inspiring tale of ‘Act of Faith’.

There were maps, finely etched, of a world I'd never seen before. Here was Jerusalem, there London; Amsterdam, a dot at the top of the circle that was the earth. No Heaven on this map – no Hell. Just oceans and lands and cities, as if seen by a bird. Or by God.
I help the whole world in my hands. I held a heresy in my hands.
“Master,” I whispered, “what have you done?”
We should not try to explain the world, that’s what the priests and preachers said, no matter what their doctrine.


I will say that from reading the blurb I thought there would be a romance in the story. Master de Aquila’s printing apprentice, the young man Willem, is mentioned twice in the blurb. I thought this was a hint-hint, nudge-nudge that Gardiner included a little romance for her young heroine. But as I started reading, I did think the novel was full enough without including a love match for Isabella. The settings, conspiracies and printing histories are enough to carry the story and immerse the reader. So I was somewhat pleased to discover that there is no such romance with Willem – the blurb is simply a little misleading (or maybe it was just me that assumed the relationship?). I can see that some readers may be disgruntled by the lack – but for me I was pleasantly pleased to read that Isabella had more important things on her mind than a boy’s affections.

Kelly Gardiner’s new novel is a divine story, dripping in history and delivering a wonderful message of freedom, loyalty and bravery. I loved this novel and will recommend it to bibliophiles both young and old.
Profile Image for Sophia.
6 reviews15 followers
November 29, 2011
I was working for my mum yesterday in her physiotherapy practice, and about the middle of the day there was little going on, so she gave me $20 to go buy a book. There were many MANY books I wanted to buy, however the fact I only had $20 limited me. I eventually came across this book, drawn to it because of the cover and the fact it was historic fiction (LOVE!!), and was delighted to discover it was $19.99. The book was really sweet and easy to read, I finished it in a few hours. (Sorry mum, I think you lost my enthusiasm in the latter parts of the day.)

I really liked this book. Exceptionally well written. The interactions between the characters were heart warming. I loved Isabella's father and how he treated her. As the book progressed I found I also loved how Master de Aquila, Willem and Isabella interacted. At times Willem frustrated me, I expected more growth from him than what eventuated. However, his naivety did provide for some genuinely funny scenes. My favourite quote from the book was:

"You have been travelling for months with the prettiest girl in Venice. You must be immune to the charms of all other women."
I blushed. I needn't have.
"Who is she talking about?" asked Willem.
I slapped his arm. He looked surprised.
"You?" he said. "She's joking, surely."

I loved how Gardiner explored the theme of the novel, mainly being freedom of thought, but also encompassing other themes like growing up, loyalty and courage to name a few. Her thoughts were challenging, yet not forceful, leaving the reader to make interpretations.

Overall:

Likes:
-Overall writing style
-Dialogue between characters (realistic and heartwarming)
-Exploration of themes
-Creative names for chapters
-Dainty little prints at the end of most chapters
-Well researched
-Very quotable!

Dislikes:
-Willem could be quite frustrating at times
-Although I loved the book, I felt it lacking in some way, though I'm not exactly sure what.

3.5 stars.

Profile Image for Catherine.
605 reviews14 followers
December 30, 2015
I am a sucker for a really good adventure (I wanted to join the Merrymen when I grew up) and this book delivers! In fact it was a lot more adventurous that I thought it would be given the title. The main character, Isabella, is smart and gutsy, and applies both abilities without too much deliberation. The pace is good then downright gripping as you get to the end.

I loved reading about the sources for the details and the time period in the afterward. The author describes the cities,the people and the printing, blending details beautifully into the story without compromising the action and pace (something kids don't appreciate).

This book deserves a wider audience than teens. I'm giving away a few copies to historical fiction friends who are adults. I'm also hoping that Ms. Gardiner doesn't limit herself to YA fiction - I'm hoping she has an adult novel up her sleeve and writes it sometime soon.
15 reviews3 followers
April 13, 2011
I really enjoyed delving into that revolutionary period of history in the late 1600's when books were seen as powerful and dangerous. It's interesting to examine some of the ideas that surfaced in literature at that time of religious conflict and to consider them in light of current events. Writings on liberty and religious tolerance seem as relevant as ever 400 years on. However despite these intellectual themes running through the story, it is by no means a 'hard' read. It is an emotive story following the adventurous journey of three passionate characters (Isabella, Willem and Master de Aquilla) that I think readers will love.
This is not quite of the same substance as Geraldine Brooks' 'Caleb's Crossing', but is a bit lighter and equally enjoyable story.
Profile Image for Jessica Lewenda.
Author 1 book258 followers
October 23, 2011
Oh man, this is such an amazing book. It deals with the Spanish Inquisition, and how books and opposing views could get one killed. Very thought provoking.
I totally recommend this to everyone who loves books and is open minded.
Profile Image for Hazel Edwards.
Author 112 books87 followers
July 31, 2012
just finished Act of Faith and I'm so
Impressed with the richness of the writing,interwoven history and the feisty Isobella. The rhythm of the writing is also noticeable. Will highly recommend The book was a tribute to learning, set in a credible historical context . Really enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Pam Saunders.
572 reviews9 followers
May 12, 2011
Just lovely especially if you are a lover of books as objects.
Profile Image for Katherine.
120 reviews36 followers
May 14, 2012
This is a tentative 4 stars - it would have been 3 stars if the themes weren't so interesting.

I enjoyed the theme of this book, having just read Royal Escape by Georgette Heyer. (See the end of the review for more of what I liked about the themes.) I enjoyed the dialogue and and witty lines. I quite liked the characters. I thought it explained a lot but that there were no info-dumps - at least, no long and onerous ones.

However.

This book was missing the elusive "something" that makes a book a great read. Reading other reviews, I know I'm not the only one who thinks this. I personally can think of two issues with this book:

1) the main character is given the least depth - I think, though, that this is a result of...

2) the poor writing.

The Poor Writing:
Now, this book is NOT badly written. It's not hard to read and it doesn't have strange sentence structure or lots of uncommon words. But there seems to be a disconnect between what we (the readers) sense and what the author says.

For example (and this is not from the book, which is upstairs), I'm reading a scene, and there's some dialogue, and it's all quite enjoyable, and I'm perceiving it as teasing banter, and perhaps the main character is getting a little annoyed, but not really. But then the author uses an adjective like "angrily" or makes one of the characters go off sulking, and I'm left in a place of "whaaaaat?!" because I totally wasn't getting that from the tone of the book.

Or, for another example, Isabella is afraid of water (not a spoiler), but her fear is too easily overcome (speaking as someone who is afraid of water). Or you hear heaps about how she's ______________, but you only know that because you're told, and not because you're picking that up from the text. It's like "oh, yeah, I know that because Isabella told me".

Other characters had good depth, and secrets that emerged over the course of the book, but Isabella was disappointingly flat, though she took part in some great dialogue. Some of her comebacks were absolutely wonderful.

There were one or two unfortunate cliches, which make it rather obvious who the villain of the novel is, but in some ways I quite enjoy knowing early and watching the story build up to it's climax.


Now, back to the themes. I absolutely LOVED some of the discussions that took place in the book, particularly those concerning liberty. I like how it explores the idea of liberty being forced on someone (as with the Covenant) and how the people advocating it simply do not realise the irony of them forcing "freedom" on people who don't want it. I found it interesting because it made me think about how true it is that nothing really ever changes - the Covenant back in the 1600s was simply a foreshadowing of similar battles now, which are just as ideological and just as rooted in rights and beliefs and ideals, even though they are not between two religions.

I also really liked the quote by the widow, about how having a book banned is the best thing that can happen to you because as soon as the Pope bans your book everyone in Europe is going to want a copy! (There's a tip for an aspiring author!) In the end-note, some of the history surrounding the book is given, and I was quite surprised when I read how recently the Banned Book List was abandoned by the Catholic Church - I think it was in the 1960s if I remember correctly.


Despite this books flaws (which I guess are stylistic), it will be staying on my shelf, simply because I enjoy the theme, the discussions, and the easy read. Actually, considering the depth of the discussions, it is a remarkably easy read - the author did a good job explaining the philosophical positions and the arguments for true liberty and freedom.
Profile Image for Kate Forsyth.
Author 75 books2,308 followers
January 2, 2014
Act of Faith is an intoxicating mixture of history, adventure, romance and philosophy. It is, I think, one of the cleverest books to be published for young adults in the past few years, yet it wears its scholarship lightly. The novel is set in 1640. England is in the midst of the English Civil War, a time of extraordinary political and religious upheaval. The heroine of the tale is Isabella Hawkins, daughter of an Oxford don and philosopher. She has been taught by her father to read Greek and Latin, as well as many other languages, but she has to hide her brilliance for, in the mid-17th century educated women were considered quite freakish. When Master Hawkins is imprisoned for his ideas, Isabella helps her father escape but sets in chain a sequence of events that will end in tragedy and exile. She ends up alone, in Amsterdam, working with a printer who is publishing seditious books and smuggling them all over the world. Danger is all around her, but Isabella is determined to work for political liberty and intellectual freedom. With a gorgeous cover and interior design from the Harper Collins designers, this is a book both beautiful and brilliant, and one I highly recommend.
Profile Image for Tara.
598 reviews3 followers
December 30, 2013
I have been meaning to read this book for so long and I am glad that I finally did. What an adventure it was! Isabella was a great character and I would want to be just like her if I lived in this era. Banning and burning of books is a subject that makes my blood boil and I was carried away, all across England, Amsterdam, Venice and Spain, in the journey to save the books and to save the people who bring us the books. Kelly Gardiner has obviously done her research as it shows throughout the story with excellent descriptions of everything from food to clothes to books and maps. After finishing this book, I now want to go and visit the State Library of Victoria to look at the rare book collection and the old maps!
Overall a great read and looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of book two.

'Thousands and thousands of people read our pamphlets and books and passed them on to other people. I have set free a thousand ideas. I have unchained ten thousand minds. That is my crime' - Master de Aquila. pg 214
Profile Image for Kirsti.
2,456 reviews83 followers
September 2, 2013
I really enjoyed this, I guess I just thought there might me a more conclusive and firm ending. Firm isn't the word I was searching for, but it will have to do. I felt like I was reaching for something, and my fingers touched it, but it slipped away. However, I still really liked this book. I liked the characters, and I loved the ideas and history. I can't imagine preserving books to that degree; although sometimes I buy books just because I hat the thought of second hand shops throwing them away (and it happens too often, I worked in one for years, the amount of times I caught other workers throwing away books because they were 'old' still distresses me)

What a pretty cover! It was one of the reasons I wanted to read this book in the first place. I whizzed through it while sitting at the pub. I don't drink much, just sit there and listen to conversation around me and read. If you like history and a speedy read, then this for you.
Profile Image for Bronwyn Mcloughlin.
549 reviews10 followers
August 4, 2018
I loved the ideas in this story, probably more than the story itself, although it is an easy and fast paced read. Set in the initial stages of the English civil war, Isabella, daughter of a free thinking philosopher, teacher and writer, working for him as his secretary, finds her world turned upside down when he is arrested by the parliament forces. Which is ridiculous, for he opposes the notion of monarchy as the Puritans do, and surely that makes them allies. But the puritans insist that everyone must think as they do, and he will not conform to their anti freedom doctrines. Which is the theme of the ensuing tale of how printing and the distribution of ideas through its power helped to establish freedom of thought in a world dominated by the controls of the church over what people were allowed to think - and the horrific punishments distributed to the disobedient. Flowed well with good characterisation of the main players neat prose without unnecessary convolutions.
Profile Image for Sylvs (NOVELty Reads).
391 reviews42 followers
December 23, 2018

That book was quite an adventure for 220 pages. Not going to lie about that fact. It was a unique blend of history, philosophy, adventure, travel and of course books. It was a feminist read all about a girl who worked with a controversial editor to publish books in a world where such ideas were dangerous. It was a book with a setting and themes that I didn’t really read about before that or I haven’t read much about in YA.

I found Isabella Hawkins, the main character to be quite modern for her age and I was extremely jealous of how smart she was and how she knew so many languages. I love learning languages personally, learning French and Korean and yes, I would love to learn many more like she did. She knew languages from Italian to Greek and even Latin!

The writing also was commendable it wasn’t like the usual stereotypical YA with easy to read language or the language that we in the 21st century typically use. No, it had more sophisticated language that completely suited the book and the century that it was set in making the characters all the more believable. But from one reader to the next I would like to say that the language shouldn’t be something you stumble over.

I’m keeping this review short simply because it was a short book but all in all it was a fun and quick read that was well written with well-rounded characters. I would recommend this one to anyone who likes a little bit of history and philosophy but want something they can get through fast.

ACTUAL RATING: 3.5 STARS
Profile Image for Trix Wilkins.
Author 3 books43 followers
November 24, 2017
I loved this book...Wish I'd discovered it sooner! Beautifully written prose, likable characters, deeply researched historical setting. Young Isabella becomes an assistant to a printer in the 1600s and involved in the secret printing of a Hebrew-English Bible and an encyclopedia during a time when ideas were acknowledged to have the wide sweeping potential for change (and thus dangerous, should they not sit well with the powers that be). The cover makes it look like a Christian romance but it's not that at all - this wonderful novel is about history, politics, the production of books, and daring to act by one's conscience.
32 reviews
October 27, 2021
A nice short read. It's not fast paced and can be read whenever without a pressing need to continue. It was quite fun to delve into the 1600s world where we observe how oppression occurred through the unjustified excuse of religion and how individuals fought back - the printing presses :)

Everyone should be allowed to make their own choices and be provided with unrestricted resources to learn - religion or otherwise.
253 reviews
February 11, 2021
This book is set in Europe during the 1600s. The story starts with the English civil war, then moves to the Amsterdam and Venetian publishing scene, and finally to the Spanish Inquisition. In England, it was the Catholics and their ideas and books that were under attack and on the mainland it was the Protestants who were the enemy. The Jewish people weren’t welcome in either place. This story touches on all of this history in the context of book publishing, in particular those books that were banned by authorities. The story also has a strong feminist view. I quite enjoyed the story, although it was a little weak. I think the major drawcard for me was the interesting subject matter.
Profile Image for YA Reads Book Reviews.
673 reviews258 followers
July 16, 2012
“England,1640. Sixteen-year-old Isabella is forced to flee her home when her father’s radical ideas lead him into a suicidal stand against Oliver Cromwell’s army.Taking refuge in Amsterdam and desperate to find a means to survive, Isabella finds work with an elderly printer, Master de Aquila,and his enigmatic young assistant, Willem.
When Master de Aquila travels to Venice to find a publisher brave enough to print his daring new book, Isabella accompanies him and discovers a world of possibility -where women work alongside men as equal partners, and where books and beliefs are treasured.
But in a continent torn apart by religious intolerance, constant danger lurks for those who don’t watch their words. And when the agents of the Spanish Inquisition kidnap de Aquila to stop him printing his book, Isabella and Willem become reluctant allies in a daring chase across Europe to rescue him from certain death.”
————————————
Review: Historical fiction is not something I get to read often, but it is a genre that I’m a big fan of. Act of Faith by Australian author Kelly Gardiner is set in the mid 1600s during the time of the Spanish Inquisition.
By the end of the book there was something about it that felt off…Everything just happened so fast, it was resolved so quickly it just didn’t feel like the story was fleshed out as much as it should, especially at the end. Our main character Isabella is no doubt smarter and stronger than most girls during that period she but she was missing that spark that would bring her completely to life, she was just a little too…constrained. Definitely not in opinion or cleverness, just in personality.
I found Willem’s views towards women, though probably authentic to the period, to be quite annoying to read, especially since he didn’t seem to grow or change his views by the end of the book which was disappointing.
Master de Aquila was a great character, so passionate about books! Gardiner gives a fascinating insight into the printing trade as well as just how dangerous some thoughts were considered during the period. Master de Aquila and his colleagues believed so strongly in freedom of speech and the right to share knowledge, it makes you appreciate the men those characters were based on in history.
Pros: Characters that are as infatuated with books as much as we are, Signora Contarini, Isabella’s quick wit (especially in response to Willem), strong female lead, seeing the way different religions were regarded in various European countries.
Cons: The blurb giving too much away, the events in the book being too brief….and maybe Willem. The blurb almost makes you think there’ll be a love story with Willem & Isabella – no love story in sight here.
For people who love: History (obviously), A Curse Dark As Gold, Classic Fiction

Pages: 227
Publication Date: July 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins
Challenge: Historical Fiction
Profile Image for Rebecca.
Author 32 books719 followers
November 8, 2015
This is a rare, subversive jewel of a YA book: set in 1640s England and Europe - a time when it was dangerous to be of the wrong faith, the wrong gender, the wrong ethnicity - Isabella Hawkins, the sixteen-year-old daughter of a free-thinking English scholar and philosopher, is forced to flee the only life she has ever known in Cambridge for the role of assistant and translator to a Spanish Jewish printer living in exile in Amsterdam. The printer's life's work is to print and distribute books of faith, freedom and ideas amongst the people of Europe, in order to unchain their minds.

When Master de Aquila is abducted from Venice and dragged back to Seville for trial by agents of the Spanish Inquisition, it is up to Isabella Hawkins - disguised as a boy - and Master de Aquila's unworldly young Dutch apprentice, Willem, to cross borders and cultures to save him. Along the way they free others - Saracens and merchants, women deemed "witches" and other assorted "heretics".

I loved Isabella's fearlessness and resourcefulness and how her intellect surpassed that of men more than twice her age. She and Willem get the job done without feeling remotely like pashing each other, and that was refreshing, too.

"Act of Faith" wears its painstaking research very lightly. I look forward to taking up Isabella's further adventures in "The Sultan's Eyes".
2 reviews
July 12, 2016
I find it difficult to find books that I genuinely enjoy and become enthralled in any more because I have read such a wide range of texts through school, Uni and out of pure enjoyment but this pleasantly surprised me! I picked it up for light reading over the semester break and my imagination was running wild and the settings were so vivid in my head.

I love that there is not a romantic story line through this and that Isabella is the heroine and not the doting female that is so often seen in historical fiction, while it wouldn't have taken away from the main plot, it is such a refreshing change to see a strong female lead who is often smarter and funnier than the men around her; if Isabella had ended up being besotted with Willem, it would have been an insult to her intelligence and character, but I do like the room that is left for further development later on (possibly), because despite loving the strong independent woman vibe, I am still a sucker for a bit of romance. Looking forward to a grovelling Willem
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Julie (Bookish.Intoxication).
762 reviews32 followers
December 17, 2013
This novel was a joy to read, the characters are honest and witty, the language is cultured and the worlds created are those of legends. Gardiner has created a work that inspires and allows culture and the power of reading and writing to be shown through the simple yet potentially dangerous act of printing.

A powerful and moving story, this is definitely a novel for any YA reader, even for older children, a creative and moving novel, almost written in prose, demands to be read, and demands to be understood. Aspects seem historically accurate and that adds to this novels worth. Great little read.
Profile Image for Jody.
76 reviews1 follower
February 15, 2014
What a wonderful, wonderful book. I loved everything about it, the story, the history, the characters, the writing.
If you love books, reading and history then you will love this book.
My only negative comment is that it was to short. But luckily I discovered there is a second book ' The Sultan's Eyes' which continues the story. I am going to start reading this book straight away before I get pulled too far away from Isabella and her world.
Do yourself a favour and read 'Act of faith' it is such a wonderful book.
Profile Image for Rachal.
Author 1 book1 follower
March 27, 2014
On the one hand I liked this book. Kelly Gardiner did a competent job of portraying some of the religious terror that tore apart Europe at the time of the Inquisition, the Protestant Reformation and the Parliament of Cromwell. On the other hand, the book just felt a little lacking. I would have loved for more depth and detail in these historical events. However, I am aware that this book is primarily aimed at young adult readers, it just felt like it never quite reached its potential.

It was hard to find the climatic ending credulous.
3 reviews
November 14, 2011
This novel is richly detailed in terms of history and provides an insightful and fascinating read about the times and life of a young girl thousands of years ago. Though the characters are from different time periods, they were relatable whilst remaining distinct and likable and the overall plot line was adventurous. I really enjoyed this novel, and would recommend it to fans of history and adventure!
Profile Image for Sonja.
19 reviews2 followers
November 19, 2022
I was deeply immersed in this read, having not so long ago travelled almost identical locations as Isabella!
No matter the fictitious entries these publishers are legendary. What amazing brave individuals, to forsee the imestimable value of their knowledge & craft.What dark times these must have been. I loved every step of the way!
5 reviews
December 2, 2012
It was really good, the author clearly did heaps of research which really helps the storyline, considering so much of it is based on what happened in history. I was really proud of myself when I finally figured out why the title was "Act of Faith" which was because of the trial the Spanish Inquisition named the auto de fe, which means act of faith. I loved the ending, it was really satisfying.
Profile Image for Nisma.
280 reviews
August 4, 2013
4.5 maybe? Really loved this. Haven't read anything like it, not in this setting anyhow. It was very 'atmospheric', so easy to get lost into, and I love the relationship between Isabella, Willem, and Master de Aquila (though wouldn't that be Master d'Aquila?). So many quotable moments, I must got back and write them up some day... ^_^
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316 reviews2 followers
September 6, 2016
I enjoyed the book. I came into it with rather low expectations, to be honest - and yet it surprised me with its gorgeous simplicity and general appropriateness. It was a delightful read. The only criticism I have is that it is desperately slow moving. Other than that, it was a fun and delightful winter read.
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