To save an image, right click the thumbnail and choose "Save target as..." or "Save link as..."
Author: Hardstaff, Jane
Living with her father in the Tower of London during the reign of Henry VIII, Moss is disgusted and revolted by both her father's job (executioner) and hers (collecting the freshly severed heads) and wants desperately to escape and find out more about her origins.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG+
Reading Level: 4.40
Points: 8.0 Quiz: 180569
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 3.50
Points: 13.0 Quiz: 69083
Kirkus Reviews (01/15/16)
School Library Journal (02/01/16)
Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 09/01/2015 Moss has spent her entire eleven years confined to the grounds of the Tower of London under the watchful eye of her father, Tower blacksmith and official executioner to the court of Henry VIII. He’s a busy man, and he expects his daughter to assist him by carrying the basket to collect fallen heads. She’s had enough of the bloody business and her own restriction, which her father eventually explains with a suspicious story that he has been spared his own beheading on the condition he serve the court. When Moss discovers a secret tunnel leading from a garderobe to the Thames, she’s off on explorations and imagines a freer life than the one she currently resents. However, a curse set by the locally legendary Riverwitch and a threat by a very real child snatcher might derail her bid for liberty, and despite her newfound friendship with a resourceful river urchin, Salter, she finds out nearly too late how her loving father’s lies and vigilance have been keeping her alive. Cameo appearances by Henry VIII and his doomed queen Anne Boleyn anchor the novel specifically in the early sixteenth century, but lack of informative endnotes will leave readers wondering just how much of this is true (were there basket tenders at executions?) or even possible (could a child sneak into the royal garden at Hampton Court and have a heart-to-heart with the queen?). Fuzzy though historical fiction components may be, the supernatural-adventure angle nearly compensates, with Moss’ conquest of the Riverwitch satisfyingly clever and poignant. Fans of Carolyn Meyer with a taste for the otherworldly will be a target audience. EB - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2016 Gr 5–8—Moss hates her life as the basket girl and executioner's daughter, so she leaves the tower for subsistence living along the river with an orphan named Salter. In this British import, Hardstaff weaves a coming-of-age story set in Tudor England with folklore about a Riverwitch. Moss's frustrations with her father's overprotectiveness and her desire to somehow connect with her late mother are genuine. Moss matures as she searches for where her mother died and through her friendship with Salter. She fully realizes Salter's "bread first, then morals" philosophy during her escapade to Hampton Court. The Riverwitch folklore and the suspense that it creates, along with the themes of love and family, strengthen Moss's story. Parts of the novel, particularly Moss meeting the queen, feel contrived and too heavy-handed. The sequel, River Daughter (Egmont UK, 2015), is stronger and more engaging than the first entry, as it focuses more squarely on Moss's connection with the river and the Riverwitch. An author's note that briefly describes the inspiration for the story is included. VERDICT Though this work is not as enthralling as Karen Cushman's historical fiction, readers who enjoy history and folklore will learn about Tudor England through a commoner's eyes in this British import.—Hilary Writt, Sullivan University, Lexington, KY - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 04/15/2016 Moss has spent her almost 12 years in close proximity to death: her father, the Tower of London executioner, put Moss in charge of toting the severed heads back from the stocks in a basket. He refuses to leave the Tower, and at first it’s not clear why, aside from his unwillingness to speak about Moss’ dead mother and his anger over a nursery rhyme about a child-hungry, river-bound witch. While mucking out a latrine, Moss finally gets a chance to escape—she finds a secret tunnel ending at the Thames. It’s there she meets a sticky-fingered guttersnipe, Salter. But she also finds something much less friendly—a smokey-smelling man lurking under the wharf and an eerie, skeletal face in the water. Hardstaff imbues her debut novel with rich, sensory language to evoke a strong sense of everyday life in Reformation-era England. Among the real drama involving historical figures, such as Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, clever Moss’ compelling story is a gratifying one, and kids who love spooky, grim tales will easily be lured in. - Copyright 2016 Booklist.