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CELIA REES is the bestselling author of many books for young readers, including Pirates!, Sovay, Witch Child, and Sorceress. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty languages. Celia lives in England with her husband and teenage daughter.
Grade 9 Up—It's 1794, and the revolution in France is threatening to spill across the channel into England, where Sovay, the beautiful 17-year-old daughter of a gentleman, turns to holding up carriages while in disguise to break her boredom. Then her father disappears and is charged with treason, and, with the persuasion of the notorious highwayman Captain Greenwood and the American Virgil Barrett, she becomes embroiled in the political issues of the day, eventually traveling to Paris during the final days of the Reign of Terror. Rees develops strong (and frequently mysterious) characters to carry this historical novel. The vivid sense of place, especially in France, will cause readers to experience the French Revolution on a personal level. Ultimately, the epitome of evil is not Robespierre or his underlings, but the crowds of ordinary citizens who accept the horrors without flinching. Unfortunately, these strengths are undermined by troubles with the plot. Reference to "The Highwayman" that opens the book serves no purpose in the overall story except to introduce Greenwood and display Sovay's courage. The historical events are not fully fleshed out, and readers unfamiliar with the Reign of Terror are offered no explanatory notes or afterword. Two possible love interests for Sovay are trumped in the last 100 pages by a third character, and readers may be frustrated with the neat ending.—Melissa Moore, Union University Library, Jackson, TN
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