Thursday, June 16, 2011


Murder. Religion. Heresy.

Heresy, a historical thriller written by S.J. Parris, portrays a series of murders at Oxford University during the 1580s. Parris utilizes the character of an ex-Catholic monk, Giordano Bruno, to uncover suspicious and brutal deaths at Oxford. In doing so, Parris examines tensions between Catholicism, Protestantism, and intellectual modes of thought in Elizabethan England.

Heresy is the first book in a trilogy depicting the tales of Bruno, an ex-Catholic Italian monk fleeing from the Inquisition. Bruno takes hide in England after being charged with accounts of heresy due to reading anti-Catholic literature. Bruno's experiences tell the tale of religious upheaval throughout all of Europe.

Parris expertly depicts a nation's and continent's fight for religion. Parris's description of how far one will go to stand for their beliefs was most interesting, especially with both history and contemporary events in mind. Gruesome murder scenes are linked to religious connotations, scripture, and rationale.

When I began Heresy I had a vague assumption that Parris's writing style would be similar to Dan Brown. You say suspenseful thriller based on European history, and I immediately think of The Da Vinci Code. What can I say?

I wasn't too far wrong - elements of Parris's book do remind me of The Da Vinci Code. Religious conspiracy, anyone?

However, I was pleasantly surprised by Parris's work. Parris writes an engaging, fast paced, page turner of a book. Her writing is suspenseful. Her characters are multi-dimensional and vibrant. Her description of the time era - the 1500s - is vivid and intense. It is almost as if one can see, smell, and hear her descriptions.

Bibliographical Reference:
Parris, S. J. Heresy. London: Harper, 2011.


  1. Good to hear - this has been sitting in my to-read pile for far too long.

  2. I love it when the writing is so vivid. I think religious conspiracy is hard to do well but this one sounds like it got it right.


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