Thursday, December 13, 2012

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars~ Review

Title: Jepp, Who Defied the Stars
Author: Katherine Marsh
Source: The Library

Goodreads Summary:

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, daily injustices would become his seemingly unshakable fate. If the humiliations were his alone, perhaps he could endure them; but it breaks Jepp's heart to see his friend Lia suffer.
After Jepp and Lia attempt a daring escape from the palace, Jepp is imprisoned again, alone in a cage. Now, spirited across Europe in a kidnapper's carriage, Jepp fears where his unfortunate stars may lead him. But he can't even begin to imagine the brilliant and eccentric new master--a man devoted to uncovering the secrets of the stars--who awaits him. Or the girl who will help him mend his heart and unearth the long-buried secrets of his past.

My thoughts:
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 astronomy was a ton of math and formulas. I thought I would just be learning about constellations and planets and astronomers. I imagined it like an elementary version of astronomy I guess. And the history of astronomy, about all the famous astronomers, was the only part of the class I did well in. I was fascinated with Tycho Brahe. We learned in class the story of how he died – that he was at a dinner party at a noble’s house, and had to go to the bathroom. But he didn’t want to interrupt dinner, because that was rude and disrespectful, and so his bladder exploded and he died. I had no idea this could happen to people and it freaked me out. I never forgot that story. I recently learned (after reading Jepp) that this is more of a story, not true fact. Nonetheless, Tycho Brahe had become a huge reference for me, and when I saw that Jepp, Who Defied the Stars was in part about Brahe, I had to read it.

And this book was so beautiful. And heartbreaking. At times I had to put it down and walk away because the story was bumming me out. Jepp went through so much in his journey. He began life as the dwarf son of a hotelier, and lived in the tavern happily.  His mother was always there to protect him from those who would make fun of him, and he knew he was loved and safe.  Then one day, a fine nobleman came to town, for the purpose of taking of Jepp with him to Coudenberg Palace, to live with the Spanish court of the Infanta.  Don Diego, the nobleman, spoke of a good life for Jepp there, where he would be cherished. I didn’t know this, but dwarves were part of court life back then- sometimes as beloved members, most of the time as court jesters who were treated cruelly. It was here that Jepp’s life takes a turn, which begins his quest for the truth of his life and to change his stars.

Interestingly, royal horoscopes were procured for nobles, and in this book, for the dwarves at Coudenberg. Astronomers not only studied the stars, they were also astrologists. And in a twist of fate, Jepp is sent to live with Tycho Brahe, who is in charge of the royal horoscopes Don Diego had ordered. Tycho lived on the island of Hven, in Uraniborg Castle, which also served primarily as a research institute/astronomical observatory.  Jepp’s fortune changes yet again, as it does throughout the course of this book
Jepp’s life is filled with questions, and uncertainty, even though on the surface his life seems to be mapped out. The variable is always Jepp.  (math reference! I hope I used it right! Lol)  He knows what his life is supposed to be like, but can he change it? Can he change his destiny? Can any man?
I really loved this book – it was gorgeously written, with rich characters and settings. I lived the ups and downs with Jepp, and sometimes I even cried.  It will make you think about life, its twists and turns, its hills and valleys. It was amazing, and I believe everyone should read it.


  1. I need this book, I can tell. GREAT review!

  2. Wow! This sounds like an amazing read. I hadn't heard of it before now but I'm adding it to my never-ending TBR list!


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