Sunday, 7 October 2012

Spy for the Queen of Scots by Theresa Breslin (Children's, 11 years +, 8/10)

August 2012, Double Day
404 pages, Hardback
Review copy

Themes: life as a princess's companion, fine jewels and robes, sneaking about, facing formidable threats, helping a friend as much as possible, risking a life for another, finding happiness, lots of suspense, some moderate violence, a little romance, a tissue is needed

Summary from Random House Children's Publishers
As lady-in-waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots, the beautiful Ginette - known as Jenny - is the young queen's closest childhood friend. Growing up in the elegant but ruthless French court, surrounded by enemies and traitors - not least the jealous, manipulative Catherine de Medici, and Mary's own scheming half-brother, James - Jenny has always been fiercely loyal to her mistress. But when she overhears a mysterious whispered plot, closely followed by several unexplained deaths at court, she puts her own life in danger and turns spy for Mary.

Jenny quickly realises not a soul at court can be trusted, and when she and Mary return to their Scottish homeland for Mary to claim her throne, they face even greater peril. Desperate to protect her friend from those who would slit her throat to steal her crown, while battling her feelings for the charismatic nobleman Duncan Alexander, Jenny becomes embroiled in a dangerous web of secrets, betrayals and lies.

Nayuleska's thoughts
I'm not one for remembering the history I learned at school, but thanks to Theresa's books I don't have to. Jenny's story brings to life what it was like to be one of Queen Mary's inner circle. Jenny helped her have fun and find peace. Even when times got tough Jenny stayed by the queen's side, unless she was forcibly removed from it. Jenny is intelligent in realising the best way to help her queen is to keep an ear out for court intrigue. This costs her peace of mind, yet the end result makes it worth while. 

The end is not all doom and gloom, which is a relief. It's poignant, and one which makes this 8/10 read memorable. I personally prefer a bit more action and tended to lose concentration when various events were explained.

You can find out more on Theresa's website.

Suggested read

Try looking at life from the view of a modern girl travelling back in time in The Queen Must Die by K A S Quinn 

1 comment:

Cass (Words on Paper) said...

Historical fiction can go one of two ways for me--everything is perfect and I learn so much about the specific time period/figures and enjoy every second of it, or it's just really dry and everything just floats past me as I daydream about what to read next.

If anything it's the ones that are set in England that can come off a bit stiff for me. Hope I enjoy this as much as you did! It sounds good.