Title: A Murder for Her Majesty
Author: Beth Hilgartner
Major Themes: 1500s, England, Historical Fiction, Children’s Mystery
Synopsis: Alice Tuckfield, a fugitive running from her father’s murderers, is adopted by a group of choirboys and must figure out who the killers are before they find her as well.
I’ve never visited England before—and certainly not sixteenth-century England—but Beth Hilgartner brought the setting to life in her book A Murder for Her Majesty. This book had my brothers and me cackling with glee at some places, and silent with tension at others.
Alice Tuckfield is an eleven-year-old girl fleeing from the hands of the men who killed her father. After making her way to York to find help, she arrives cold and starving—and runs into Geoffrey, a choirboy at the local cathedral. When things don’t turn out as expected, she is taken in and disguised as a choirboy—first as a prank, and later a matter of life and death.
This story has been listened to repeatedly since Mom first read it to us. While it is a murder mystery, the book also gives a clear idea of what a typical sixteenth-century English town would feel like, “crowds of people and the tangle of booths and stalls”. The book has just enough humor to keep you laughing (“ ‘Hungry?’ she asked him. ‘I could eat a bishop — miter and all!’ he whispered.”), and just enough suspense to keep you guessing (“He knows, she thought. Oh, God help me, he knows!”).
Overall, I highly recommend this book. The main theme is a murder mystery (but not in any bad way), but it also lightly touches the Catholic/Protestant conflicts of the time, and reveals how the church played so much of a bigger role in the lives of its parishioners than it does today.
WARNING: This book does contain lying in places, so you may want to talk with your children about that. I do not consider it bad enough to be offensive, even though it is wrong.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12
Links to buy this book:
Amazon: Paperback | Hardcover
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
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