The Raging Quiet

by Sherryl Jordan

Reviewed by Margaret Donsbach

The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan The Raging Quiet is set in an unspecified time and place similar to the Celtic fringes of rural Britain in the late Middle Ages. Sixteen-year-old Marnie belongs to a family of farmers who must work several days a week on the lord's lands instead of their own fields. When her father falls ill and can no longer work, she agrees to marry one of the lord's sons, a widower more than twice her age, so her large family can keep their house. Her husband brings her to a dilapidated seaside cottage in a village a day's wagon ride away. Mysteriously, he claims it's worth more than all the lands attached to his family's manor house.

Marnie doesn't like married life. The ignorant, suspicious villagers don't like Marnie. Often alone, Marnie befriends an odd boy about her own age who sometimes seems lost in his own inner world and other times howls and moans in an eerie, frightening way. The villagers sometimes tie him to a whipping post to lash out the devil they believe inhabits him. Intelligent, unconventional Marnie figures out his secret: he can't hear. Both of them go through remarkable transformations during the course of the novel, though not without hardship, struggle, and pain both emotional and physical.

The Raging Quiet is beautifully written in lyrical language. Readers may see some of the plot twists coming, but there are plenty of surprises, too, to keep them wondering what will happen next. (1999; 266 pages; recommended for ages 12 and up. An American Library Association "Best Books for Young Adults" selection.)

More about The Raging Quiet at Powell's Books or (Warning: both sites include summaries that give away a lot more of the story.)

Other YA novels about medieval superstitions:

Breath by Donna Jo Napoli (2003), about a boy in Germany who is treated as an outcast because of his chronic lung disease; based on the folk tale "The Pied Piper of Hamlin." More info

The Emperor's Winding Sheet by Jill Paton Walsh (1974), about a boy adopted by the Emperor of Byzantium to be his good luck charm. More info

The Witch's Brat by Rosemary Sutcliff (1970), about a boy in twelfth-century England whose mother is suspected of being a witch. More info

Nonfiction about superstitious beliefs and practices of the Middle Ages:

Strange Histories: The trial of the pig, the walking dead, and other matters of fact from the medieval and Renaissance worlds by Darren Oldridge (2004), written for adults. More info

Handbook to Life in the Medieval World by Madeline Pelner Cosman (2008), a three-volume set, written for teens. More info

Black Cats and April Fools: Origins of Old Wives Tales and Superstitions in Our Daily Lives by Harry Oliver (2007), about modern superstitions, many of which have origins going back to the Middle Ages. More info


Alphabetized list of superstitions at the trivia collection website

Back to Young Adult Novels: Medieval Times

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