The Queen Must Die (Chronicles of the Tempus) by K A S Quinn
|The Queen Must Die (Chronicles of the Tempus) by K A S Quinn|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Exciting time-travel adventure as a young girl slips magically from the present day into Victorian England and lands herself in the middle of a plot to assassinate the Queen!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: March 2010|
|Publisher: Atlantic Books|
In this historical time-travelling extravaganza, Katie Berger-Jones-Burg (I know, it's a mouthful, but stay with me) is the daughter of Mimi, an ex-girl band member who has been married three times, so far, hence Katie's hyphenated name. Katie has come home from school to find that Mimi has gone off with another man, Dr Fishberg, and as she begins to stress about the potential new addition to her surname she crawls into her hidey-hole space beneath her bed to escape for a little while. Here she keeps her diary and her stash of books, and she curls up to read her latest book, a compilation of letters from Princess Alice, Queen Victoria's youngest daughter. She starts to feel a bit sleepy, but is suddenly startled awake by a flash of light. She finds herself in Victorian England, underneath a sofa and staring into the eyes of Princess Alice, who is just as startled as she is.
Katie and Alice become friends, along with James O'Reilly who is the young son of the royal doctor. They each come from a less traditional background, with James whose mother is dead, Alice who is, of course, the daughter of Queen Victoria, and then Katie whose parents are divorced and who has already had three fathers in her life so far. Together they attempt to find a way to send Katie back home, but in doing so they begin to uncover a frightening plot to assassinate the Queen. It seems that in some way Katie is a key part in what's happening. Their friendships grow and develop as they face strange, dark forces and try to uncover the truth about the mysterious happenings in the palace.
There is a lot going on in this ambitious novel, and I enjoyed reading such a well-paced adventure story. I wasn't always convinced by the conversations between Alice, Katie and James. The language felt a little forced at times with the writer suddenly remembering to make Katie sound modern American throwing in the occasional 'and it was, like, really good...' sort of thing and then formalising Alice's speech, to make her sound Victorian or royal I suppose, but then at other times seeming to just get caught up in the characters and leaving them to speak normally. I found it interrupted the flow of the story as the characters didn't always quite ring true.
There are some nice details about Victorian lifestyles though - nothing too serious or textbook, but enough to give the story some flavour. I don't know how historically accurate the details are with regards to the Royal family, but I expect Quinn has tried to stay fairly faithful. I was interested in the discussions about the design and building of Crystal Palace, and it actually made me want to read more about this period and Queen Victoria's family (which is unusual since I did everything possible to avoid history at school!) Some of the supporting characters felt a little flat to me, like Prince Albert who seemed to be a strange mix of strict and loving, and bumbling and intelligent, but perhaps he really was like that! Alice was endearing though, and I enjoyed the spats between Katie and James who clash over almost everything in a true love/hate relationship.
There's action throughout the story which helps to keep the book moving along, and lots of sneaking about in secret passages, hiding quietly, dressing in disguise which always goes down well! The ending allows for a sequel (I believe it's intended to be a trilogy) though the explanation around the finale in the book was a bit more sci-fi than the rest of the story. I don't think it would put off any readers who don't like the Star-Trek type thing though, as you're so tied into the story by then you just want to know what's going on. I enjoyed it, and it will be interesting to see where Quinn takes Katie in the future, and whether she'll be reunited with Alice and James again. I hope so!
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
For more Victorian adventure try The Mummy Snatcher of Memphis: A Kit Salter Adventure by Natasha Narayan or for a different time travelling story there's The Dresskeeper by Mary Naylus.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Queen Must Die (Chronicles of the Tempus) by K A S Quinn at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Queen Must Die (Chronicles of the Tempus) by K A S Quinn at Amazon.com.
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