Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Bolt from the Blue by Diane A. S. Stuckart

Hello All,

Several months ago, Diane A. S. Stuckart contacted me, and asked if I would read, and possibly review her new book, A Bolt from the Blue. I said yes. What she didn't know about me is that I prefer to read series in order, so I borrowed the first two in this series from the library, The Queen's Gambit and Portrait of a Lady, so that I could "catch up" with the characters. For myself, I'm glad I did, for the story arc and growth of the main character, but the books do not have to be read in order.

This series is subtitled "A Leonardo Da Vinci Mystery", but it is told from the viewpoint of one of his apprentices, Dino. Dino's real name is Delfina and she is a young lady of marriageable age who cuts her hair, borrows her brother's clothes and runs away on the eve of her engagement to a much older man. She wants to learn to paint, and feels she can best learn from a master such as Leonardo Da Vinci, by becoming one of his apprentices.

In A Bolt from the Blue, Dino has helped the Master, as the apprentices call Leonardo, solve several murders in the Milan court where they live. The bolt from the blue of the title is Leonardo's flying machine, and I believe the title also applies to the fact that Leonardo hires Dino's father, an acclaimed cabinetmaker, to help with the project. Just as the three of them are trying out a prototype of the flying machine, one of the apprentices is killed, and he has sketches of the flying machine on him.

The story speeds up a bit from this point on, but not too fast--many exciting and interesting things happen. The flying machine is stolen, Dino's father is kidnapped, Dino and another apprentice travel undercover to search for both, and, and...well, it gets a little complicated, with some excellent twists.

I like the strength of character that Dino/Delfina shows by leaving her family and disguising herself as a boy in order to learn from Leonardo Da Vinci. She gets herself into some dangerous situations, but between her own wits and Da Vinci's back-up, she escapes with her life, and her disguise, intact.

As a young adult librarian, I am also happy that this series can be recommended to teens--it has good historical details, Da Vinci is a name that many teens will know, and young women will enjoy Delfina's strength of character.

Happy Reading!

Disclaimer: The only compensation this reviewer received was a copy of this book for review.

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