Monday, February 16, 2015

The Executioner's Daughter - a bookwrap


This debut novel is authored by Jane Hardstaff and recommended for kids ages 11+.  

These following images are not from the novel but give you a flavour of the historical time period and the gravity of what this little girl had to endure.

The title of the book caught my attention right away, "The Executioner's Daughter".  Can you even imagine having that "title as a child?" That's bad enough, but when I read on further and found out that she was the one who collects the heads of those chopped off by her father in a basket...well I certainly was hooked and had to read on.....intriguing tale for sure.

This novel mixes historical facts with adventure, supernatural interventions, loyal friendships and strong parental love.  This fantasy adventure setting is in 16th century, Tudor London, during the reign of King Henry VIII.  

Moss and her father live in the underbelly of the Tower of London where her father's job is to be the Tower's executioner.  She is disgusted and revolted at both his job and hers and wants desperately to escape, feeling like she is being held a prisoner there.  Moss is feisty, cunning and bold and one day she decides she's had enough and stumbles upon a tunnel that leads her to freedom....or so she thinks.  

Her father has told her that his mission in life is to keep her protected and safe, a promise he made to his beloved deceased wife and Moss's mother.  Determined Moss, although she loves her father,  goes in search of a waterwheel on the Thames where she hopes to uncover her roots.  That is where her mother died and she was born. She is driven to find the truth of her father's words to her and make some sense of her life. 

The story tells in detail of her struggle to survive in the bitter, wintry cold outside the tower walls. She lacks food and shelter. Moss pairs up with a clever, resourceful, lovable thief, named Salter who becomes her friend and teaches her the way of the river people.  There are supernatural dangers lurking about her as a Riverwitch, skulking in the depths of the Thames, stalks her and wants to possess her very soul. She has to protect herself from a decrepit old man who constantly is hunting her and wants to snatch her away and deliver her to the Riverwitch.  

This book is perfect for middle-grade and those who enjoy historical fiction.  I highly recommend it.  I was taken in from the very first chapter. It is an excellent debut novel and I hope there will be many more to come from this exceptional author.  

Jane Hardstaff is the author of The Executioner's Daughter - a fantasy adventure for children, set amid the glamour and grime of Tudor London under the reign of King Henry VIII, during the last months of Queen Anne Boleyn.

The novel was chosen as Children's Book of the Week in the UK by The Times and The Sunday Times. 'A strong new voice in children's fiction... draws a wonderfully authentic portrait of a wilful tween desperate to find out more about her origins... Worth locking yourself up for an afternoon's reading pleasure.' Picked by The Times Newspaper as one of their best Summer Books for Children 2014.

'This notable debut mixes vivid history with supernatural adventure and from its dark depths friendship, forgiveness and parental love rise to the surface.' Nicolette Jones, THE SUNDAY TIMES

LOVEREADING4KIDS February 2014 Debut of the Month. 'Set in the underbelly of the Tower of London and on the Thames in Tudor times, with a cast of brilliant characters, including feisty heroine Moss and lovable rogue Salter. A nail-biting drama and a supremely authentic Tudor setting, this is a a thrilling adventure readers age 10+ will devour and a world they'll want to return to again and again.'

'Such was the power of the story that I could feel it around me.' NAYU'S READING CORNER 

'An amazing and clever story like no others I have read. Great historical detail shines through this book. It was a bit spooky but very exciting and I like the ending.' Emma Stephenson, LOVEREADING4KIDS 

'I suppose it's possible, maybe even probable, that there exists a better way to start your novel than with the heroine being forced to pick up the head of Sir Thomas More after his execution. Having said that, I'm unconvinced I've ever seen one. This is a completely gripping opening chapter which, in the space of a dozen pages, perfectly positions Moss as a fabulous character, unwillingly playing her part in her father's executions while desperately wanting to get away from the Tower of London where they live as prisoners. In addition, it sets the scene in Tudor England superbly, bringing the perils of Henry VIII's reign vividly to life... Highly recommended to fans of historical fiction.' Robert James, THE BOOKBAG

Jane lives in London's East End, close to the Tower of London and the great, wild River Thames, inspiration for her first book.

Unwrapping some quotes...

"Freedom lies in being bold."  -  Robert Frost

"Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes.  You are free."
                                                 -Jim Morrison

Read on and read always!

It's a wrap.

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