Friday, August 21, 2009

The Highwayman's Footsteps

By Nicola Morgan
Genre: Historical Fiction/Adventure
Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Will is an upperclass teen, never thinking twice about his priveleged life until he runs away from home and steals another's purse to get by. But his life really begins when he is held up by a highwayman. Just when Will thinks he will be killed, the highwayman collapses and Will discovers it is really just a girl, his own age, gravely injured. Almost against his judgement, Will decides to try and care for the girl--partially out of a need to do the right thing and partially out of loneliness for his new situation in life. As Will and Bess become allies and then slowly, friends, Will learns about her history of being the daughter of a highwayman and an innkeeper's daughter, both unjustly killed by redcoats. Will's new life is fraught with danger, as he ends up chased by the redcoats, harboring fugitives, and accepting life as a highwayman himself. There is quite a bit of danger and excitement in this life, and Will spends a great deal of time questioning his old existence and what he didn't know about the lives of the poor and lowborn. This is a quick moving story with likeable characters that those who like some historical fiction will eat up in a few big bites.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tender Morsels

By Margo Lanagan
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3 1/2 stars

This well-written retelling of Snow White and Rose Red is filled with flawed and compelling characters that pull the story along. Liga is a 15 year old girl who has been abused by her father and then later, after his death, a gang of town boys. In desperation, Liga manages to create her own heaven--a world that is based on the one she lives in, but without any of the horrible people or "bad" things--a safe place to raise her 2 daughters. But when a dwarf and then a couple of bears who act unnervingly human intrude upon the family over time, the younger daughter, Urdda, realizes other worlds may exist. One day, Urdda's curiousity enables her to push through to the real world. And that signals the beginning of the end of Liga's heaven. But can a family used to heaven exist in the real world? An unwary reader may pick up this book and think it might be a charming retelling of a fairy tale, as so many of them are. But beware! The world that Lanagan creates is filled with brutality, prejuidice, rape, abuse and worse. Be prepared to deal with the heavy issues that infuse the real world and hurt and confuse our beloved characters. A powerful book, but not one for every reader. Try it if you dare!