Title: Under a Silent Sky
Author: Claudia Lehman
Major Themes: Waldensians, Bible Translation, Family Read-Alouds, Historical Fiction, Middle Ages History, Faith, Inspirational Fiction, Persecution
Synopsis: This powerful book tells the story of the Waldensians of the 13th century in an unforgettable way.
When I saw Under a Silent Sky in a catalog, I knew this was a book I wanted to read. I ended up reading it aloud to the children, even though parts of it are a bit much for very sensitive children. This is the kind of experience many followers of Jesus have had to endure throughout history, and it is good to hear about it from time to time.
A crowd was gathered around the door of a chapel in a small city in Thuringia, staring at an edict that had been tacked up there. No one could read—except a serf who happened along. Jurian read aloud the notice: The Waldenses were not going to be tolerated any longer. They were to be wiped out. He took the terrible news back home to the estate where he worked, and it put even more urgency into the Work he was doing. Could he complete the translation of the Bible into the local language before he was betrayed?
Lady Katerina begged her husband to protect his Waldensian serfs from Konrad von Marburg, who was behind the edict. He would not. What would happen to them? Would she ever find the courage to stand for the truth herself? When the leader of the Waldensians among the serfs on the estate was betrayed, was there any hope for him—or for the rest?
This story is incredibly gripping. There are a number of threads twisted together throughout the book, which kept our interest. I think the children were glad that the chapters are very long, since that meant they didn’t have to beg for “another chapter” so often! There were times when the tension got very high.
I found Under a Silent Sky to be the most historically accurate one I have read about the Waldensians. The others I’ve come across seemed to take modern-day Amish life and transport it to the Middle Ages. This one, however, seemed accurate as far as the daily life and conditions among the serfs. I consider this book valuable as historical fiction about the 1200s in Europe—but even more so as an encouragement to keep the faith. This book shows how God cares for His own and works in the lives of those who love Him. It is a very moving story, one that we won’t soon forget, and definitely among my top ten for the year.
WARNING: Chapters 13 and 15 describe torture. Chapters 16 and 20 describe people’s deaths.
Read Aloud—Ages 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults