In Tudor England, Cat Sparrow lives with her sister, Meg, in a convent quite happily and without incident. That is until a strange figure on a thundery horse takes Meg away. For Cat, this is the start of an adventure, a mystery, and a journey across the English Channel to France to find the most important person in her life. However, she is not travelling alone. She’s with the King and Queen, their entourage, new friend Jacques, and Pepin the monkey.
Jacques is on a quest of his own, to avenge the death of his father who was murdered by an unknown assailant back home. Both Cat and Jacques’ searches become part of a bigger conspiracy of lies, betrayal, and murder.
The narrative is told in the first person, present tense from both Cat and Jacques’ point of view. This gives it a very personal – important for reasons I’ll mention – and urgent feel. Even though both main characters have their own narratives, there is more weight on Cat as the central character. And what author Ally Sherrick has done really well is created a truly distinctive voice for her. Cat, in modern terms, has a learning disability, and her unique view of the world is wonderful. Her misuse of language is endearing, and her naivety touches deeply. As a result, this personal way Cat reveals herself builds a lot of empathy between reader and protagonist.
Sherrick’s additional information after the story is something else that grabbed my attention. She explains more of the real historical events and people in more detail, and also where she was more flexible with the truth for the sake of the story. There are internet links to the paintings which inspired her too for those extra curious minds.
History buffs in upper juniors and above will love this. As too will anyone looking for an adventure with unique, brave, and loveable characters. And if you’re looking to build an empathy focused collection within the school, then this would fit the bill royally.
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