The Betrayal (At the House of the Magician) by Mary Hooper

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In this third Elizabethan adventure, our friend - and Dr John Dee's nursemaid - Lucy moves to London. Dr Dee wishes to follow the court as he is as in need of money as ever. Lucy is ecstatic. She's longed to see London and she loves being close to the court, not least because it means she's likely to see more of Tomas. And it's quite clear to Lucy that Tomas needs her eye upon him more than ever. The new lady-in-waiting, Juliette, seems to be taking up far too much of his attention.

In the background, Robert Dudley has just got married. The Queen is distraught and has banished him from court. Word has it that she is inconsolable. But Elizabeth has more to think about than a lost love. The plots surrounding Mary Queen of Scots are coming to a head...

Lucy is as enjoyable a character as ever. She's big of heart, impulsive and romantic. She's hopelessly nosy and she just can't help but be where she shouldn't be. Her escapades in the theatre are hilarious - she goes in disguise as a boy for propriety's sake, and dissembles so well that she is promptly taken on as an actor to play a boy playing a girl. But it's this cross-dressing and her talent for it that eventually unables her to foil yet another plot against Elizabeth. And she remains as hopelessly in love with the Queen's fool, Tomas, as ever.

The Betrayal, apparently, is the last in this series. I think it's probably wise. Lucy has been a super tour guide around Elizabethan England, but there's only so much she can show her readers. Better to end with some drama than to become tired and samey. She has been great fun, all the same - Hooper's research is impeccable and interesting. She doesn't stick to the grandstanding of court life. Instead, she shares all sorts of homely detail and a very vivid picture of daily life and social attitudes rises up from her pages. The politics and intrigue are all there, but she keeps it light and romantic and girly too, so these books are educational but they are never dull.

Tween and early teen girl readers will love this blend of action and adventure with romance and historical detail. The whole series is definitely recommended for them.

My thanks to the nice people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.

They might also enjoy Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times by L Brittney - this time, it's a boy Sir Francis Walsingham recruits to help him keep Elizabeth I safe. Dr John Dee features in the modern-day thriller The Alchemyst by Michael Scott.

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