What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Maid of Secrets brings the Elizabethan era to life through colorful and realistic characters, palace intrigue, budding romance, and a murder mystery. Violence is described with some detail; overall, there's not much gore, but on a few occasions blood does spurt, seep, or stain. Courtly espionage is the main focus, with the 17-year-old heroine navigating many tricky situations with pluck and great inner strength. Handsome and charismatic young men provide a framework for learning to manage physical and emotional responses to first romantic encounters (kissing, some clothed making out).
What's the story?
Palace intrigue takes center stage as an orphaned pickpocket finds herself, at 17, suddenly taken from her world to be a spy for the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth I. Heroine Meg must neutralize threats of overthrow from Catholic Spain, solve the murder of a young maid of honor, find out who's responsible for mysterious disruptions at court, and cope with handsome young men who may or may not be on her side. And it all takes place in the highly restricted world of a royal court where what you see may not be what you get.
Is it any good?
Putting espionage and romance up against the colorful and realistic backdrop of the Elizabethan age draws MAID OF SECRETS' readers into a fascinating historical era. Seen through the eyes of a newly arrived outsider, we learn the perils of royal intrigue right along with Meg. Kids will enjoy the clever solutions that people came up with to solve problems without modern technology (like an alarm clock that uses dripping water or tying intricate knots to see whether someone's opened a package). That said, modernized language keeps the material easy to access, so don't expect spot-on historical accuracy.
Meg is an appealing, whip-smart heroine whose struggles with friendship, truth, and loyalty make her easy for kids to identify with and admire. Parents will appreciate the value she places on educating herself and how her high self esteem and creative thinking help her navigate some tough problems. Planned as the first installment in a series, this satisfying mystery is likely to have readers looking forward to many more adventures.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the kind of life Queen Elizabeth really had. How was her life better or worse than the average person's? Would you want to be queen or king?
When we first meet Meg, she doesn't know how to read. What will learning do for her, as both a spy and as a young woman? What must life be like today for someone who can't read?
How does the book portray violence? Do you think it's accurate/appropriate for the era and subjec matter? Could the story be told less violently?
How much of the book do you think is historically accurate? How could you find out more?