Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Fall 2015 Fiction
Ages: 12 & Up
Author: Sharon Cameron
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-0545675994
Hardcover Price: $17.99

Sophia Bellamy is engaged to be married, and she is not very happy about it. Her father needs to pay his debts, and René Hasard's money can save the elder Bellamy from prison; but as far as Sophia can tell, René is a brainless, fashion-obsessed twit, with far too much good looks and charm to be trusted. Sophia has a far more important project, one that might threaten her marriage to a man from the Sunken City that once was Paris. Sophia, together with her brother Tom and their childhood friend Spear, routinely engage in rescue missions to liberate prisoners from the infamous Tombs. Sophia, in fact, is the notorious Red Rook, enemy of the Parisian revolutionary regime and liberator of political captives. And Rene's cousin is Albert LeBlanc, rising star in the government and torturer extraordinaire. When Tom is captured as the Red Rook (because how could the Red Rook be a girl?), Sophia is determined not to rely on René; but she soon discovers that he is just as clever as she is, and has his own reasons to work for the regime's downfall. As Sophia, René, and Spear plan a grand rescue effort, she must decide whether she can trust the man she has grown to love.

This action-packed romp of a novel combines the pleasures of French Revolution-era historical fiction with the thoughtful twist of a post-apocalyptic society in which history is repeating itself indefinitely. Readers who loved The Scarlet Pimpernel will enjoy Cameron's homage to the clever socialite-activist; readers who aren't familiar with the Pimpernel will simply be prepared to enjoy more French Revolution fiction. The lovers' games of intrigue and flirtation are suspenseful and passionate as well as funny, and the secondary characters (especially Rene's collection of reprobate uncles) are equally enjoyable. The intricate plot becomes overly convoluted near the end, with far too many last-minute hitches that drag on a bit too long. This, however, is a minor complaint, and many young readers are sure to enjoy this lively historical romantic adventure.

Naomi Lesley   ©2015 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

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