Crispin: The Cross of Lead

by Avi
Series: Crispin #1
320 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by emmanem

A good read for sound readers, but with violence and a rather dark plot unsuited for its age group.


Set in England in the fourteenth century, this tells the story of the thirteen-year-old Crispin. "Asta's son" has thought his father dead for many years, and when his mother dies, all seems lost to him. He soon finds out that his mother could read and write and that she inscribed a mysterious message on a lead cross. On top of that, Crispin has, for reasons unknown, been declared a "wolf's head" by his family's steward - meaning that anyone who meets him is not only allowed to kill him, but will also receive a reward for so doing. Crispin flees the town shortly after his mother's funeral and meets an odd man named Bear, who makes Crispin his servant; they form a friendship as they journey through many places together - always with the threat of death hanging over Crispin.


Crispin has a Catholic background. When he does bad things, he is always found out and punished, but he usually holds back and resists the temptation to do wrong.

Spiritual Content

As I said, Crispin has a very strong Catholic background. Some people swear oaths, and God is depicted as a stern, Zeus-like person.


A priest is found in a pool of blood. Bear and Crispin meet a one-eyed man, and later there is a fight between two characters and one of them is killed.

Drug and Alcohol Content


Sexual Content

A lord has an illegitimate son.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

"Ba**ar*d" is used once to refer to an illegitimate person.


This book has some violent content, but otherwise is a very interesting read. However, it may not be the best for young readers because of some dark content and the portrayal of God; even though it is meant for ages 11-12, it is probably better for older readers.

Fun Score: 4
Values Score: 3
Written for Age: 11-12

Review Rating:

Average rating: 5 stars
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