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Jepp, Who Defied the Stars


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A thrilling historical epic with an unlikely teenage hero

About the Author

An only child, Katherine Marsh spent a lot of her youth reading, trading stories with her grandmother who had run a bar in New York, and listening to her mother's frequent astrological predictions. After surviving high school and graduating from Yale, Katherine spent a decade as a magazine journalist, including as a reporter for Rolling Stone and an editor at The New Republic. Her first book, The Night Tourist, won an Edgar Allen Poe Award for mystery writing, and was followed by the sequel The Twilight Prisoner. Katherine lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and two children.Find out more about Katherine at: or follow her on Twitter: @MarshKatherine


In the final years of the 16th century, a 15-year-old dwarf named Jepp struggles to understand himself and his place in the world; he's caught between the pull of the past, the promise of the future, and the forces of fate and free will. The first of the book's three sections finds a battered and beaten Jepp being transported ignobly in a cage to an unknown destination; along the way, he recalls the events that led him there, from his humble upbringing in an inn to becoming a court dwarf in Brussels (a role in which humiliation, opportunity, and danger are closely entwined). Jepp's fortunes continue to wax and wane in the later sections, as he arrives at the island castle of astronomer Tycho Brahe. As in Marsh's The Night Tourist and The Twilight Prisoner, real history is effortlessly woven into her fiction: while Jepp has his roots in an actual dwarf who served Brahe, Marsh transforms his "footnote" of a story into an epic search for love, family, respect, and a destiny of one's own making. Ages 12-up. Agent: Alex Glass, Trident Media Group. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Gr 7 Up-Is our fate predetermined, or do we make our own fortune (or misfortune) through our actions and decisions? Marsh ponders this age-old question through the eyes of an extraordinary hero. When Jepp, a fatherless dwarf, joins the court of the Spanish Infanta, he's not prepared for the daily humiliations that become his life. He also doesn't expect to fall in love with a fellow performer, melancholy but lovely Lia. When she is raped, Jepp attempts to help her and her unborn child escape-with tragic results. As punishment for his insubordination, Jepp becomes dinnertime entertainment for the eccentric Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. Inspired by friendship with Brahe's daughter, Magdalene, Jepp reveals his educated mind and is welcomed into the astronomer's close-knit circle of scholars. He even finds true love. But before Jepp can embrace this promising new future, he must embark on a journey of self-discovery to resolve his past. Marsh crafts a beautifully poignant coming-of-age tale of struggle, tragedy, and, finally, of triumph. Jepp's indomitable spirit is truly inspiring, and it is this rare quality that makes his character so memorable. The universal moral of self-acceptance is communicated skillfully. This shining gem is a must-have.-Alissa J. Bach, Oxford Public Library, MI (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Real history is effortlessly woven into her fiction... Marsh transforms [Jepp's] "footnote" of a story into an epic search of love, family, respect, and a destiny of one's own making. * Publishers Weekly *
A beautifully written coming-of-age story, inspired by real historical characters. A truly great read. * Recommended Reads, Children's Books Ireland *
Narrating a young adult novel from a dwarf's perspective is nothing short of inspired ... Marsh transcends genre to create an engaging narrative complex enough to keep not-so-young adults turning its pages. * The New York Times *
This highly unusual story about a highly unusual hero will also feel like your story. Few of us are imprisoned dwarfs, but all of us want to guide our own lives. * Jonathan Safran Foer, author of EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED and EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE *
With a strong central character in Jepp, this is an unusual and powerful coming-of-age story about first love and taking control of your future. * Booktrust *
In this work of historical fiction, Marsh has created a loveable hero who overcomes both physical disability and social constraints to find not only love but a place of standing in this world. This is an uplifting novel that explores an interesting and little-explored historical geography. * We Love This Book *
A powerful and romantic historical novel based on the true story of the world famous astronomer Tycho Brahe. -- Julia Eccleshare * Lovereading4kids *
Jepp is an itinerant dwarf who travels around Europe. "Marsh's elegant historical fiction has a moving message," says Marianne * The 50 Best Books for Christmas, Independent *
Delightful characters, unique setting, and lovely prose. This is historical fiction at its best! -- Ruta Sepetys, author of BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY
Jepp, who defied the Stars, is not only an intelligent and thought-provoking book, it's also refreshingly different and a terrific read. * Buzz about Books *

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