The Dresskeeper by Mary Naylus

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The Dresskeeper by Mary Naylus

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: An enthralling magical, historical teen and tween mystery that's well worth a read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 238 Date: November 2009
Publisher: Prospera Publishing
ISBN: 978-0956122285

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Things are pretty grim for Picky. She is thirteen years old, being bullied at school, and has to spend her weekends helping her single, working mum to take care of her little brother and her senile grandmother. One evening, at her Gran's house, she goes up into the attic and tries on an old dress that she finds inside an old chest. The dress turns out to be magic, and she suddenly finds herself back in 17th Century London, struggling with a strange man who is calling her 'Amelia' and is trying to kill her. Picky ends up embroiled in Amelia's 17th century life as she tries to find out the truth of who is attempting to murder her, at the same time as trying to avoid arousing suspicion with her strange behaviour whenever she returns to the present day.

There is something wonderfully compelling about this story. I was immediately caught up in Picky's life, and I read on eagerly to see more of her time travelling adventures and how they would conclude. I liked the time travel aspect, with all these magical dresses that transport Picky back to the 1600's. The historical side of things seems to be very well researched. There was lots of detail about the fashions of the day obviously, but there were also details about daily life then, for both the incredibly poor lower classes and the rich upper classes. In fact, I think I much preferred the parts of the story that were set in the 17th century.

Picky herself is actually rather annoying. She's just so stupid sometimes! It made me fear for the youth of today that on finding herself in the 17th century she is surprised that there are no telephones, and that she can't have a 'fanta' to drink! I suppose the author was just trying to highlight some of the differences, but I was always terrible at history and even I'm well aware that they didn't have the internet back then...! Well, stupidity aside I didn't completely hate Picky fortunately. She's not part of the 'in crowd' at school, or as she refers to them, 'The Demon Worshippers'. She and her friend Luce are bullied by them, though as the story progresses Picky finds she has the strength and courage to stand up to them more and more which I liked. Her ignorance can also be quite funny as well, and provides much of the humour in the story.

I liked that the bullying side of things, and the usual teen woes, weren't the focus of the book, although I would have liked Luce to have been fleshed out a little more as a character. She didn't really have the same 'best friend' feel that I'd expect, and Picky's 17th Century best friend, Elizabeth, felt more realistic. I enjoyed Picky's visits to the British Library and her attempts to get information about the 17th Century out of the librarians by pretending to be writing an historical novel! In one part Miss Book, the librarian (!) is showing Picky some very old maps and it reads The librarian turns the pages really gently, a fuzzy look on her face. Like love. She loves the book. Not normal, is it? which, as a librarian myself, made me laugh out loud!

I was a tiny bit disappointed with the ending. The book wraps up so quickly. I'd been looking forward to good, satisfying finish but snap and you're done! I suppose the story is quite pacey, so perhaps the author just wanted to keep the adrenalin-rush feel, but I like things to be put away tidily at the end of a book and I wasn't sure about how some of these ends were tied. But overall I enjoyed this time-travelling, magical, historical teen mystery, I think early teens will love it, and I would definitely look out for other books by Mary Naylus in the future.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

For another great historical adventure try Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times by L Brittney or for more time travel try Gideon the Cutpurse by Linda Buckley-Archer.

Buy The Dresskeeper by Mary Naylus at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dresskeeper by Mary Naylus at

Buy The Dresskeeper by Mary Naylus at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dresskeeper by Mary Naylus at


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