Review by D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76; Costa Rica 1976–77)
The Heretic of Granada is a surprisingly quick read for 63 chapters and 345 pages. The chapters are short and there is plenty of action to hold your interest. Father Antonio, an excommunicated Spanish priest, is an unlikely action hero. But when friends help him narrowly escape being burned at the stake, he is determined not just to survive, but to bring down the corrupt administration that destroyed his family. This is an adventure on a par with Treasure Island, but with adult situations and content I would not generally recommend for young readers.
The book is a historical novel set in colonial Nicaragua and the Caribbean. It is so fast-paced and entertaining that I had to keep reminding myself how much I was learning about colonial times, Caribbean piracy, the Spanish Inquisition and the brutal war between England and Spain known as the War of Jenkins’ Ear. You also learn about more subtle matters such as the animosity among Spaniards of Castilian, Catalonian and Basque backgrounds, and the often deplorable treatment of native peoples by their colonial rulers.
David Edmonds is an experienced writer with seven previous books to his credit. His prose is very readable and holds your interest with lively dialogue and colorful descriptive language. The liberal sprinkling of Spanish words in parts of the dialogue caused me to wonder if a person with little or no background in the language might struggle to follow those passages. My experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Central America served me well, but not everybody habla español!
The Heretic of Granada is a very entertaining read, sneaky educational, and highly recommended for all adult readers, but especially those who love action and adventure! It presents insights into a part of the world, and a time period, you may not know much about.
D.W. Jefferson was a Peace Corps agriculture Volunteer in El Salvador (1974-6) and Costa Rica (1976-7). A blog about his Peace Corps years is at: http://dwjefferson.blogspot.com He is currently retired from a career in computer software engineering.