Bohemian Gospel, Dana Chamblee Carpenter's debut novel, involves magic and religion, and a young girl named Mouse, who lives at the intersection of the two. Mouse was given no proper name and handed over to the Church as an infant to be raised by the monks and nuns of the Teplá Abbey. With the power to sense things that others cannot and to manipulate the world around her in mysterious ways, Mouse has always known she's not a normal girl--just as she's known she couldn't remain at the Abbey forever. When young King Ottakar arrives at the Abbey injured by a traitor's arrow, Mouse does everything she can to save his life. Caught up in keeping the king alive, she soon finds herself the object of his attention and is swept off to court. There, she is forced to come to terms with the power that lies within her as she fights to take control of her life and her destiny.
In Bohemian Gospel, Carpenter expertly combines elements of gothic fantasy with historical details of 13th-century Bohemia. The combination creates an atmosphere of mysticism and tension: a setting that mirrors Mouse's own struggles to understand herself. As the novel moves through Mouse's life--loves and losses, births and deaths--it quickens in pace, ultimately charging ahead toward a surprising conclusion that is as epic as it is emotional. With a strong and nuanced central character and a rich sense of mystery, Bohemian Gospel is breathtaking. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm