By Jane Hardstaff
Available now from Egmont
This middle grade novel starts like a historical novel. Moss lives with her father in the Tower of London. Anne Boleyn is still alive, but rumors hint that it won't be for long. Moss is frustrated by her life, circumscribed by the bounds of the tower. Even worse, she has to catch the heads (in a basket) of the people her father executes.
Then THE EXECUTIONER'S DAUGHTER takes a turn for the supernatural. The folkloric nature of that which lies in wait for Moss makes this seem like a natural transition. It might jar those who expected an actual historical novel, but it doesn't change the tone of the novel.
There's a good balance between Moss's legitimate grievances against her father and her inability to see the sacrifices he's made to give her a good life. Running into and banding together with a thief teaches Moss a lot about what it means to be hungry and desperate. That empathy serves her in good stead as the danger grows.
I liked that the historical aspects aren't dropped completely. Anne Boleyn's oncoming fate continues to be a significant part of the background, and the two children face realistic threats as often as they face supernatural ones. It's hard out there for a street urchin.
The sequel, THE RIVER'S DAUGHTER, is not available in the US. I just might order it from The Book Depository, however. THE EXECUTIONER'S DAUGHTER is a complete adventure; I don't know what the sequel might be about. It's a very good adventure, though, so I'd like to find out.