What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Palace of Spies, by American Fairy Trilogy author Sarah Zettel, features courtly intrigue from early 1700s England and provides a lot of historical detail. Two incidents have a strong emotional impact on 16-year-old Peggy: a sexual assault and seeing two people having sex. Violence is infrequent and mild until the end, when fighting, killing, and blood are described in detail. A few uses of "bitch" and "whore" are the main examples of strong language.
What's the story?
In England during the reign of George I, 16-year-old Peggy finds herself betrothed to a stranger who's quickly revealed as a really bad guy. When she refuses to marry, her guardian uncle throws her out of the house with only the clothes on her back. Turning to someone she hopes can help her learn about her past lands her smack in the midst of palace intrigue, disguised as a lady in waiting to the Princess of Wales. To navigate the halls of power, she'll have to solve a murder and learn who her true friends are.
Is it any good?
In PALACE OF SPIES, Sarah Zettel, author of the American Fairy trilogy, leaves fantasy behind and instead focuses on palace intrigue, blackmail, and murder -- a change that's not for the better. Although the story's rich in historical detail (ever tried on a mantua?), its emotional engagement remains pretty shallow. Characters lack the kind of telling details that would make us truly care about them. The even pacing reveals secrets slowly; then comes an over-the-top violent confrontation at the end.
History-loving kids will find plenty to enjoy about a world where everything hinges on who said what and who was seen with whom. An enjoyable-enough light read, Palace of Spies offers lots of interesting tidbits that don't quite make an emotionally satisfying meal.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why historical fiction is so popular. What about the past is so fascinating?
Peggy mentions how little power she has over her own circumstances. Historically, how were women kept from controlling their own lives? Are things different today?
Did you find the chapter headings intriguing, or did they give too much away?