Review: Watermark, a Novel of the Middle Ages by Vanitha Sankaran

Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages

The daughter of a paper-maker in a small French village in the year 1320 — mute from birth and forced to shun normal society — young Auda finds solace and escape in the wonder of the written word. Believed to be cursed by those who embrace ignorance and superstition, Auda's very survival is a testament to the strength of her spirit.
But this is an age of Inquisition and intolerance, when difference and defiance are punishable "sins" and new ideas are considered damnable heresy. When darkness descends upon her world, Auda — newly grown to womanhood — is forced to flee, setting off on a remarkable quest to discover love and a new sense of self . . . and to reclaim her heritage and the small glory of her father's art.

In a time when women had few opportunities, let alone a young girl who is born albino and due to being albino, had her tongue cut out and rendered mute, Auda is trying to thrive. The book begins with her birth in 1300, Auda's mother dies from a rough childbirth where Auda had to be birthed by a crude cesarean section and she is born a "white witch" and she was deformed due to her unfortunate birth. Then "Watermark" jumps to 1320, when Auda is a grown woman, her sister is off and married and she is at home helping her father with his papermaking business. She reads and writes and has dreams, skills that are a necessity for someone who is mute. During a time of the Inquisitions, Burnings of witches and Heretics, and the Crusades against Jews and Infidels, being something "different" is a curse.

Through Auda's trials and tribulations, the author takes you on her journey of survival, love and the art of papermaking.

I am not sure how I feel about this book. I felt absolutely ZERO connection with Auda. Generally, I fall for the underdog and cheer them on. With this story, I just didn't care as much as I would normally. I didn't want anything bad to befall her but I didn't feel that strong pull that a reader should feel. I thought the historical aspect of the story was amazing and especially the art of papermaking was extremely interesting. I felt the dialogue was underwhelming. There is definitely SOMETHING there, but I feel that something was missing. That "spark" was gone. I just wasn't wowed but I also didn't despise it. It was readable but not re-readable for me.

This book was provided for me from TLC Book tours ( for a fair and honest review at no charge. Receiving a complimentary book does not affect my ability to be fair and honest. I am just a hobby reviewer who adores books!


  1. I enjoyed this one more than I thought I would but I agree with you that I really didn't connect with Auda so much. It was more of the setting and the superstision that I found compelling. Thanks for the review.

  2. Sounds just like my cup of tea - historical novels probably being my favourite.

  3. Eek! Sorry you didn't feel any connection to the main character. Thanks for being on the review, though, and I certainly appreciate your positive review. :)


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