The Plague by Joanne Dahme

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The Plague by Joanne Dahme

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Category: Teens
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Madeline Wheatley
Reviewed by Madeline Wheatley
Summary: Historical adventure set during the time of the Black Death and following the fortunes of fifteen year old Nell whose resemblance to a royal Princess has life changing effects.
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: June 2009
Publisher: Perseus Books US
ISBN: 978-0762433445

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The story begins in 1348, the year in which the Black Death first reached England. Nell and her younger brother George lose their parents to the plague, and as orphans their future looks bleak. But a chance meeting leads to Nell's lookalike similarity to the Princess Joan transforming their fate. She is taken into the royal household to act as a double for the Princess in times of danger. Two years later she and her brother accompany the Princess on her voyage to marry the Prince of Castile. Nothing goes as planned, and Nell finds herself being passed off as the Princess against her will.

This should make for a great tale with shades of The Prince and the Pauper. Sadly though as the story progresses it rambles all over the place, with characters appearing and disappearing without making much of an impression on the reader. What seem to be significant plot lines are left undeveloped or vaguely explained. Can anyone tell me quite what is going on with the amulets? Or what the Prince was planning with the rats and why?? There is little depth and no subtlety, added to a clear cut good versus evil agenda that leaves no room for character development.

Edward III did have a daughter called Joan who died of the plague on her way to marry the Prince of Castile. This fact, and the devastation caused by the plague, is the starting point for an increasingly fantastic tale. If you like historical fiction with regular nods to reality, this is not the book for you. Bearing in mind that much of it is set in fourteenth century England, certain turns of phrase jar. A London dockside area is a cobblestone plaza, and at one point Nell reflects, what have I gotten these people into?

That said, it is a pacey, light read, which was enjoyed by the two teenage girls who read my copy. So maybe I'm being a bit too po-faced about this one…What does anyone else think??

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

For another book that blends historical fact with the fantastic try I, Coriander by Sally Gardner.

Buy The Plague by Joanne Dahme at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Plague by Joanne Dahme at

Buy The Plague by Joanne Dahme at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Plague by Joanne Dahme at


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