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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Includes historical background about 19th-century social classes and a woman's place in society plus information about the status of orphans and the Orphan Train, life in a shipping town and as a household servant.
Themes of self-reliance, listening to your own intuition, and that working hard will get you what you want.
Positive Role Models
Hannah, the main character, is an ambitious, self-reliant girl who is hardworking, persevering, and observant. She is, however, not above breaking some rules.
Violence & Scariness
Material goods are damaged; a cat is alleged killed; the eldest daughter speaks abusively and tauntingly. Some creepy suspense.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The eldest daughter fantasizes about a painter seeing her naked shoulders and kissing her. Some passionate kissing. Hannah swims naked in the sea and "deep feelings" stir.
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Mild utterances such as "cat piss," "damn," and "hell."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A reference to laudanum and an opium den.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there is no bodice ripping in this gothic fantasy. The most you'll find is an unsettling attraction two girls have for a young painter and some passionate kisses. There is also much discussion of the eldest daughter’s madness and the acknowledgement that it might impact her marriage prospects.
Is It Any Good?
This metaphoric coming-of-age tale reels the reader in with a likeable heroine who is smart, hardworking, self-reliant, self-aware, and yet innocent and naïve. A new twist on fantasy by an adept author provides readers a great introduction to gothic romance. Is the eldest daughter of the household truly mad, or simply spoiled and manipulative? Who is the mysterious young painter who compels in Hannah forbidden desires? These mysteries and the requisite foreboding carry the reader along swimmingly.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.