I’m new to both my publishing career and this whole reviewing process. So I’ve been sitting on a whole lot of feelings about a phenomenal book that my company will be publishing in November, unsure if it was proper etiquette to rave about a book you have a hand in helping put together and selling to the general public. But seeing as my boss (who edited said book) encouraged me to rate and review it on Goodreads, I guess I can share a little more now.
So, a few months back, when I was still pretty new to the editorial assistant thing and worked just three days a week, my boss turned to me (we all work in one office–we’re tiny) and basically just said, “Katie, you have to read this.”
I did. I absolutely did have to read it.
The manuscript was called Bohemian Gospel, a debut by an author who had ready won 2014’s Claymore Award from Killer Nashville for her work. It blows my mind to look at our stacks of waiting galleys and to see that sitting there, waiting to be sent along to reviewers and critics. Because I fell in love with the protagonist, Mouse, in those first pages I read in the office, and I kept reading whenever I could. I read at home, off the clock, of my own free will. This book meant–means–a lot to me.
Bohemian Gospel follows a young girl known only as Mouse, who possesses a litany of strange and sometimes terrifying powers and skills: she’s a healer; she can see and interact the dead (especially a bunch of terrifying ghost children who want her to “join them,” as terrifying ghost children will); oh, and she can bring the dead back to life–or seriously injure the living. She has been raised by the men and women of an abbey in thirteenth century Bohemia, but while some have encouraged her to think of her powers as a gift from God, she can’t help but think that her abilities may come from somewhere darker.
At the very beginning, a young king named Ottakar appears at the abbey, having been shot with a traitor’s arrow. Only Mouse can help him, and she saves his life. Fearing for Ottakar’s life, especially as he returns to court to try to reconcile with his father, the elder king of the land, Mouse returns to court with Ottakar, where she seeks to protect him; hopes to learn more about her shadowed past; and accidentally spirals deeper into the damage her magic can do.
This book is phenomenal. I cannot stress that enough. (I also cannot stress enough that I work for the company that’s publishing Bohemian Gospel, but hush. I’m not afraid to give our own books two-star Goodreads ratings and be reprimanded for doing so.) Mouse is an incredibly complex character, and her life is far from a historical romance or magic pixie dream girl life. Mouse is fierce–she is a warrior. She is terrified and terrifying. She’s a study in contradictions, and her world is magical and dark (and full of terrors). Bohemian Gospel is a big book of historical fiction, laced with bloodshed and magic and questions of morality and on the afterlife, and you’ll absolutely devour it in two days. It moves. And you won’t want to put it down, even to sleep–it’s that good. Also, author Dana Chamblee Carpenter describes those creepy ghost children far too well.
On a personal note, it’s also been phenomenal to see this book traverse each stage of the publishing process. This is the first time I’ve read a manuscript, believed wholeheartedly that we should publish it, and been able to peek at the editing process, aid in the publicity, and see it moving closer and closer to its pub date. This is a watershed book for me, personally, and I sincerely believe it will be one for Pegasus. It was beautiful to watch my boss fight for this book, and to see us take a chance on something that fell just a bit outside of usual catalogue.
(Also, like…have you seen that cover? Gorgeous.)
Perhaps the highest praise I can give Bohemian Gospel as a poor editorial assistant is that I will absolutely be pre-ordering this title. I will absolutely be spending my own money on it. Come the fall, I could easily “borrow” a copy from the office, but I want Pegasus–and Dana–to have my money. Because I believe in Bohemian Gospel. And you all should, too.
(Also-also, we’re giving away galleys for the next few days at Goodreads, and you should all enter to win.)