'The Queen's Fool' by Ally Sherrick is an exciting and mysterious historical tale, full of danger, intrigue and empathy. Historically thrilling with a unique protagonist's voice, this is a brilliant book that sings from the very first page.
When Meg is snatched by a man on thundery horse, Cat Sparrow decides to leave her nunnery behind to set out and find her sister. But Cat is different and the world is full of danger and treachery. With a wonderful ability to sing and play her birdy-flute, Cat impresses a band of actors, including a young boy called Jacques. Together they are swept off to the palace of Henry VIII and then to France for a dazzling pageant. But can Cat find her sister in the maze of kings and queens, while a secret plot promises to threaten the peace between kingdoms?
Set during the Field of Cloth of Gold, when Henry VIII was trying to establish peace with France, this is a story that interweaves Tudor history, politics, deception and pageantry with great aplomb. Ally Sherrick truly has a time traveller's ability to evoke the atmosphere and details of a period of history while keeping her writing pacy and gripping. However, it's her delicate, wonderful evocation of Cat Sparrow's voice that makes this more than just an historical yarn. Cat is a superb creation: fearless, innocent, charming and humorous, she offsets the hard-edged world of Henry VIII brilliantly. This is a masterclass in writing in the first person. But Sherrick doesn't stop there. She courageously adds the more measured voice of Jacques into the mix, which offers us another fresh perspective, with a twist too!
The ending feels like a classic play, where all our players on the stage come together to face their verdict - it's tense stuff, but the pay-off is great. Sherrick weaves the notes together for a resounding finale.
This is a stunning example of historical fiction for children. Check out my review of Ally Sherrick's previous book 'The Buried Crown' too: here