The girls' governess, Miss Allardyce, a powerful witch, disappears the week before the London Season begins, leaving the girls without her guidance during their coming out. Determined to find her, they join forces with their younger brother Charles, family friend Lochinavar Seton and the Allardyce family, on a search that leads them into the depths of Kensington Palace where they encounter an evil courtier with nefarious plans for Princess Victoria.
All the elements sure to appeal to teenage readers are here: a handsome young man, pretty dresses, balls and a mystery to solve. Add the historical setting, beautifully drawn with just the right amount of detail, and the romance, with the aforesaid handsome young man, and it's a hard tale to resist. The plot rolls along, alternating between the debutante balls and the gloomy palace.
Persephone is a wonderful heroine. Though talented at her studies, she lacks the confidence of her sister. Throughout the story she learns much about herself and those around her. This coming-of-age aspect adds depth to an already charming romp, broadening its appeal.
The other characters are equally appealing and well defined, firmly rooted in their era. I especially liked young Charles, who bounded along with just the right combination of enthusiasm and boyish charm.
From the very first page, this book had me hooked and it will join other favoured novels waiting to be shared with my nieces when they're older. Very highly recommended.
© Teresa Eckford, 2008
This review first appeared in the May 2008 issue of The Historical Novels Review