Prisoners in the Palace: How Princess Victoria became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel is a new Young Adult novel by Michaela MacColl. The title–and subtitle–says it all.
This is a historical fiction novel based on the author’s examination of the very sheltered life of the teenage Victoria, before she became queen. She thought that Victoria needed someone who could go off and have adventures. Read my full interview and report on first-time author MacColl’s book launch party here.
Liza is the one who gets to have adventures, while Victoria is basically imprisoned in her own run-down palace. Liza is a young woman who is suddenly orphaned and destitute, who gets the opportunity to be a handmaiden to Princess Victoria. It is below her station, but she takes it in her determination to provide for herself and pay off the debts left after her parents’ death.
The historical facts about life in a palace are interesting, but the tidbits of life on the street are fun! You can learn patter flash along with Liza as she befriends the “scoundrel.”
Liza shows courage and care for others throughout the story, making her a heroine that parents will want to encourage their daughters to get to know.
Because my non-historical fiction reading tween picked up Prisoners in the Palace and read it straight through without casting it aside, and I did the same, I’m adding it to our 5 Star Reads page. A good novel should be able to transcend genre, and this one does. Historical fiction should be able to inspire us to want to learn more, and this one has.
Content: I love that this book is a little romantic, a little suspenseful and action-packed, and a little inspiring. When in the right hands, “a little” goes a long way and is a perfect offering for a younger YA reader, or an older one who chooses to avoid reading novels with cursing or depiction of mature activities. There is a bit of mature content. (small SPOILERS here) One of the staff was fired for “unbecoming conduct.” It comes to light that she was taken advantage of and ends up pregnant in a prostitution home and then takes her own life. It wasn’t at all too much for my own 12-year-old to handle, but it’s worth noting.
I highly recommend this book for kids 12 and up and adults who enjoy historical fiction or are willing to dip into the genre. To find out more about the author and what she’s working on now, read my article at Patch.
Jennifer Donovan blogs at Snapshot about her non-romantic and un-intriguing life with her husband, dog, and two kids in Connecticut.