Queen of the Sea

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Queen of the Sea Book Poster Image
Brave girl finds royal intrigue in detailed 1500s tale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Queen of the Sea presents a very detailed picture of life in a 16th-century English convent, with digressions about needlework, farming and Tudor politics.

Positive Messages

Friends can work together to battle injustice. Women are just as capable as men are at ruling a country. It's important to be loyal to those who have shown us kindness.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Margaret is a loyal and trusting girl, eager to do her fair share to keep the convent running. An orphan, she appreciates the closeness the convent affords her with the other residents. She's sensitive and sweet but also brave and resouceful, willing even to risk her life for others.


The Reverend Mother tries to hold Margaret's hand in a candle flame.


Margaret is scandalized to see unmarried adults kissing.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Queen of the Sea is a graphic novel set in a slightly alternate 16th-century England, written and illustrated by Dylan Meconis. At an isolated island convent, the action focuses on 12-year-old Margaret as she attempts to solve the secrets of her home and her own shadowy history. Filled with lore about chess, farming, and needlepoint, the book depicts a realistic view of life in England in the 1500s, although with no violence or strong language. Margaret is shocked to see unmarried adults kissing.

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What's the story?

As QUEEN OF THE SEA opens, 12-year-old Margaret loves living and working at the nunnery of St. Elysia. Gradually, however, she learns that the island where her convent is located is a hotbed of political intrigue, where those who have offended the King of Albion are sent in exile. Chief among those offenders is Eleanor, the former Queen, who does not intend to remain quiet. When a bedraggled castaway washes up at the convent, Margaret feels compelled to help him, even though her actions might be seen as treasonous.

Is it any good?

Some readers might be intimidated by a tale about an ancient nunnery, but this lushly wrought graphic novel makes its central conflict urgent and understandable. Writer-illustrator Dylan Meconics deftly captures the rhythms of life in a convent, presenting a group of women who are compassionate, resourceful, and brave. Orphaned Margaret begins the novel naive, but she toughens up as the narrative unspools, while Eleanor learns to be more personable and compassionate. The plot allows for some resolution, but it's clear at the end that the saga will continue. That's good news for anyone who enjoys complex historical fiction and characters who dare strike out against injustice. Some readers will find the novel challenging, but those who stick with it will be amply rewarded.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Queen of the Sea changes some facts of history to tell its story. Why do readers like alternate histories and the changes they make?

  • Margaret is scandalized when she sees two unmarried adults kissing. How have ideas about romance changed over the centuries?

  • How do you define a place as your home? Is it where you live, where you grew up? where the most people know you?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love graphic novels and history

Themes & Topics

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