The Cantora

Reviews of The Cantora

“You are immensely skilled at setting and scene building; you bring Brazil during the 1500s to vivid life for the reader, infusing these pages with details that make for an utterly transporting reading experience.”

—Carina Guiterman, Fiction Editor Little, Brown & Company

A Lyrically Stunning Novel . . . A 16th Century Jackie Evancho. Five Stars!

“Picture this: Colonial Brazil and a little Caeté Indian girl who sings the Latin Mass with the voice of an angel. She becomes the darling of the Church clergy, and is hailed as the first True Miracle of the New World. Then a rebellion by the Indians enslaved by the Portuguese in the brutal dyewood trade turns this child into a symbol of the rebellion. Now her fame and success become a savage nightmare as she and her mentor, Sister Mae Docura, flee into the jungle to escape the Inquisition. After many travails and struggles, and some triumphs—both in Brazil, and later in North Africa—they arrive in the Netherlands under the tutelage of a friendly Dutch sea captain. But again the Inquisition catches up with them, and they take flight once more, this time to territories unknown. This novel is impossible to put down. Beautiful writing and fine storytelling. I highly recommend it. !”

—Justin Haldeman, Author of the forthcoming novel The Duke’s Jubilee

Through Narrative & Song: Explore Intersecting 16th Century Cultures in Colonial Brazil, North Africa, & Europe

“I first want to inform readers that I am the cover artist for this novel. Regardless, I admire this fine literary work which will appeal to both Young Adults and Adults. That said, here is my review: In The Cantora, the song of a young Caeté (native Brazilian) girl serves as a catalyst for a historical journey fraught with difficulty and discrimination. The reader is plunged into the early 1500s and carried along as Yema and her protector, a woman called both Doçura the Catholic Nun and Leah Saulo the Portuguese Jew, grapple with the consequences of their marginalized lives in the jungles of Brazil, the variable Atlantic, North Africa, and western Europe, attempting to outrun prejudice and danger. A musical element threads through the story all the while— Yema's lovely voice guiding the reader through an exploration of the complexities of identity and intersecting cultures, and the pain and beauty that lies therein.”

—Nicole Brauch, Cover Artist - The Cantora

“If You Enjoyed The Book Thief, You Will Fall In Love With Cantora”

“There are some interesting parallels to “The Cantora” and “The Book Thief” relative to a child in great peril and surrounded by overwhelming forces. In this case, she falls out of grace with the Church and becomes a fugitive from the inquisition. The child has an adult mentor, Sister Docura, who also becomes a fugitive. And there are many others that protect the girl as she and Docura travel from one place to another, trying to find a place of peace. Cantora’s real name is Yema, and at the start of the novel she is a 9 year old Brazilian Indian with several unusual talents including her remarkable singing voice. (I don’t want to give too much away here) We travel with the two of them as the nun reclaims her true identity, and Yema becomes assertive, courageous, and wise as she grows older.

“This is a beautifully written and interesting novel. I read the author’s first book in this series, “Sao Tome” and enjoyed its fast pace, though not typical for historical fiction. It kept me awake at night. This second novel (The Cantora) is just as compelling, but takes the time to immerse the reader in the personalities and environs of colonial Brazil and many other locations as it journeys with the two women. A great read which I totally recommend.”

—Hailey Zwanzig, Illustrator, Left Hand Tree by Jay Gunter

The Cantora, Remarkable Story, Breathtaking In Scope, A Cadre Of Unforgettable Characters

“This book gives us a cadre of unforgettable characters who take us from the jungles & settlements of Brazil in the early 1500s, to the Caribbean, the Cape Verde Islands, northern Africa, France, The Netherlands, and finally to lands beyond.

“The little girl Yema (Cantora) starts out as a compliant and eager student of the Catholic faith, but soon runs afoul of the church. Forced into fleeing for her life, she and her benefactor (a nun whose origins are Jewish), head north along the coast into tribal lands, then on to many destinations, each one fraught with dangers while the Inquisition relentlessly pursues them. I am certain many readers will totally enjoy this novel.”

— William T. Goodman, Author of Desert Sundays, An Obvious Slam Dunk, & the forthcoming Go With The Night Wind

Great historical fiction - enthralling from the first page to the last! 5-Stars

“I found it was hard to put down this page-turner, and returned to it whenever I had some spare time. I was constantly wondering where Cohn’s compelling story would take Sister Leah Saulo and Yema, these two well-crafted and unforgettable characters, next.

“I enjoyed the thought provoking imagery the author employed to transport the reader to the coastal jungle of Brazil, aboard a sailing vessel, and other colorful places. The Cantora kept me interested and eagerly following the duo’s travels while also furthering my knowledge about the slave trade and the practices of the Catholic church's inquisition.

“The journey starts out in one of the earliest Portuguese settlements in Brazil, where the two protagonists undertake not only a geographic journey that spans three continents, but also one of personal growth and development for both the adult woman and the child prodigy. Sooner or later, both have to decide where in their world they belong…

“Lets hope Cohn will treat his readers to a sequel of The Cantora, since I am in great hopes we haven’t heard the end of their story.”

—Barbara Jane Anderson