Like a chameleon changing colors to camouflage into the surroundings, Kendrew Lascelles morphs his vernacular and style to write in 13th Century English a novel of then contemporary fantasy. How and from where he taps his literary genius to create A Child’s Guide to Heresy: Or The Great Yorkshire Witch Trial of 1249 is beyond my percipience. His words have a flow and ease not at all strained yet precisely chosen to convey a world beyond ordinary imagination. Kendrew Lascelles flavors his book with a bouquet of sensations. Using language in a way a gourmet chef indulges in spices, Lascelles creates mixtures of texture in scenes with his descriptions, flavors of equivocating sweetness and bitterness in dialogue, prepares the main course of characters with salivations of mental stimulation, all within the aroma of the dusty, damp and soot filled air of 13th Century England. A boy, a mere lad of 10, a spirited and impressionable boy loyal to God, the Trinity, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Thomas from Moorsriding is introduced to the reader in a way Charles Dickens may only have wished to have opened a scene from a play. Lascelles artfully depicts down to the detail of a mother’s instinct, the fate cast upon her boy by the visit of Monks from the local Bishop’s chamber of irreproachable power. The reader is swept along a journey following the lad throughout his coming of age and influenced by the most imaginary characters of evil, seductive witchery, mysterious and imaginative warlords, demons and necromancers. Lascelles, a “Renaissance Man” living in contemporary times, possesses the inspired literary talent making the impossible look easy. Kendrew Lascelles has once again demonstrated his ability as an author extraordinaire in this exemplary novel. Heresy plays out more than what would simply be called a “period piece.” Unlike J.K. Rowling’s tales of Harry Potter, where she tells of tales of witches and warlock with modern day narration, Kendrew Lascelles descends the depths of credibility of character development as he writes in a dialogue used by antecedents to William Shakespeare. The stage of Heresy is set in the most lavish of all theaters, the theater of the reader's mind. The reserved front-row seat awaits your settling back into the deeply cushioned red velvet comfort to enjoy the story from the safety behind your retinas. The curtain of your eyelids will close upon the end of the book as you pause a moment to reflect on the feeling of being privileged to have experienced such magnificence before maneuvering into the aisle, heading for the exit, crowded by the audience of your mind's voices surrounding your thoughts with murmurs of accolades. The price of admission is just buying this book and making the time, not finding the time, making the time to indulge into the galley text between this darkly covered, austere and unembellished glossy black cover; unpretentious as it cloaks the brilliance of the work inside of Kendrew Lascelles.
Gary Sorkin. PACIFIC BOOK REVIEW