Thursday, 25 October 2012

By Royal Command - Book Review

By Royal Command – Book Review
Mary Hooper
YA Historical
(Book 2 ‘At The House of the Magician Trilogy’)

Lucy has become a firm fixture in the household of Dr Dee, Court magician and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I. In return for saving the queen’s life, Lucy has been told that she is to work as a spy for Her Grace and is to remain where she is and await further instruction… And then Lucy hears ghostly cries in the house. Convinced that the doctor and his shady companion, Mr Kelly, are planning some new deception, Lucy sets out to uncover the magician’s dark secrets.

I really enjoy Mary Hooper’s writing. She has such a subtle way of weaving historical facts into the storyline, immersing the reader so completely into the time period that I can’t help but fall in love with her books. With this story set within the household of John Dee, Elizabeth the first’s famed court magician, ‘By Royal Command’ is a sweet read full of magical deceptions, court gossip and dark intrigue.
In this second instalment of the trilogy, we see Lucy settling into her new life as nurse maid to Dr Dee’s daughters. But as she is starting to learn, nothing stays normal for long within the house of John Dee.  With ghostly cries coming from under the floorboards and plots to overthrow the queen lurking around every corner, Lucy must put her spying skills to the test and accept her own unique powers if she is to be of help to England’s queen...
The descriptions in this story are so beautiful, the frost fair on the Thames, the courtly dresses and festivities, all of them written with such detail that I could easily imagine myself there at that place and time.
However while I thought the plot was a little slow paced and slightly anti-climatic, the characters were all very intriguing. Every one of them having their own motives and secrets – especially the queen’s fool Tomas. I think this book brought him and Lucy a little bit closer but he is still quite an elusive character. I’m really looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops in the next and final book of the trilogy.
So overall, I thought By Royal Command read as a sweet, filler-sort of novel – although it could quite easily be read as a stand alone – that truly brings the time period to life. I can easily recommend it to all fans of YA historical fiction.  3 stars!

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