Title: Prisoners in the Palace
Author: Michaela MacColl
Published: 2010 Chronicle Books
Read For: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Hey, what a pretty cover! I'm so glad that this historical novel has an illustration rather than a photo on the cover--those photo covers bug me. Better than that, however, is that its beauty is more than skin deep. It is, admittedly, "A Novel of Intrigue and Romance" geared toward the Young Adult audience, but it is also well researched and generally well written.
This is the story of Liza, who lost her chance for a debut into London society in 1836 when she was left orphaned and penniless in one fell swoop. She has the good fortune to become Princess Victoria's personal maid in what turns out to be the year before Victoria becomes Queen. It's a great little introduction to Queen Victoria for those who are unfamiliar (and aren't up to reading a vapid nonfiction account.)
It has a nice balance of elements as far as Young Adult Historical Fiction goes. The intrigue isn't too vile or intense and the romance isn't completely unrealistic and mushy-gushy, while at the same time it keeps you turning pages. There is a good amount of historical information enmeshed, while the action keeps going. (Except for an extremely conspicuous comment about Boxing Day--which shall remain unquoted--the history behind the story was largely unobtrusive. And there are notes and resources in the back, which was a great addition.)
The character and plot developments were somewhat weak. At some point I realized that while it was a page-turner, I wasn't really waiting for any great payoff or discovery. Likewise, the characters were interesting, but I wasn't really wrapped up in their dilemmas. It even took me awhile to realize that the main love interest was just that--I viewed him as a boy instead of a man of qualifying age and status. Still, it is an entertaining, interesting book, one that I enjoyed a bit more than I thought I would. If you enjoyed The Young Victoria, (I kept picturing the actors in this film while reading the book) or are interested in Queen Victoria in general, this book is a nice diversion.