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Leslea Wahl reviews a novel for teens that focuses on the persecution of Catholics in England during the late 1500s.

Crossbows and Crucifixes by Henry Garnett 


This historical fiction for teens focuses on the persecution of Catholics in England during the late 1500s. The book follows 15-year-old Nicholas Thorpe as he is thrust from his idyllic youth into the perilous dangers of adulthood when he discovers the truth about what is happening to those of the Catholic faith. This devastating period in history is brought to life through this exciting adventure.  

The political intricacies and various royal figures involved can make this a confusing era to understand, but the author does a good job of providing enough facts for those who may want to research the topic further and keeping it simple enough so the story is not lost in the complexity of the warring factions. 

Nicholas’ story flowed nicely through the colorful characters and enticing descriptions of the English countryside. The violence against Catholics was horrific to read about, but the author expertly brought the travesties to light without graphic detail, making this book appropriate for middle-grade readers. 


Crossbows and Crucifixes



England, 1585: Queen Elizabeths spies lurk everywhere, searching out Catholics who refuse to attend the non-Catholic services of the State religion. Officers of the law hunt down and kill Catholic priests and imprison those who shelter them. In these perilous times, fifteen-year-old Nicholas Thorpe discovers that this widowed mother has become Catholic, and he soon joins the Church she has come to love. Thus begin Nicholas' adventures in the Companions, a pious underground army of resistance that shelters priests and leads them in strict secrecy and great danger from one estate to another, so the Catholic faithful can continue to receive the Sacraments the law now forbids. In this adventure for all ages, author Henry Garnett brings to life the drama of a nation where unjust laws forced good men and women to choose between their country and their Faith, and young people heard early and well the call to heroism that Christians must be ever ready to heed.  


Ask for Crossbows and Crucifixes at your local Catholic bookseller, or order online from Amazon.com or the publisher, Sophia Institute Press.




Copyright 2023 Leslea Wahl
Images: Canva