Ms. Hunt proves herself a master of the storytelling craft in this dramatic and engaging tale, bringing to
vivid life a little-known, turbulent time in Christian history.

When Kathleen O'Connor discovers that she is descended from a line of strong and courageous women, she begins to research her ancestors -- all marked by their vivid red hair that has a white streak near the temple. Every two hundred years, one of them is chosen to serve in a fight for justice, beginning with Cahira O'Connor, an Irish princess forced to fight off castle invaders immediately after giving birth.

Now Kathleen learns the history of Anika O'Connor, a follower and defender of Jan Hus, an outspoken opponent of corruption within the Catholic church. Tragedy strikes Anika at an early age, first with the loss of her mother and then with the murder of her father.

Vowing revenge, Anika disguises herself as a boy and applies for the post of scribe with John of Chlum. Now known by the name of Kafka, she wangles a chance to take the test of knighthood as a first step in her planned revenge.

John of Chlum, however, knows the real identity of his tiny knight and questions the wisdom of allowing her to serve in the forces. Still, none of his warriors is a brave and true as "Kafka," and he will need such courage and spirit as the persecution of Jan Hus intensifies.

(Feb,. 403 pp., $11.99)

Reviewed by: 
Diane Johnson