Blamed for her uncle’s death, fifteen-year-old Annie is on the run. Knowing the perils she will face on the streets of 18th century London, Annie disguises herself as a boy.
Her life changes course when she becomes Captain Hawke’s cabin boy. Not only must Annie work alongside the Realm’s motley crew of outcasts and gentlemen, she must also keep her superstitious shipmates from discovering she is a girl.Annie vows she will never leave the Realm, where dreams are chased, shattered lives can mend, and secrets are stowed like keepsakes in an old desk drawer.
But, when Annie’s past catches up with her, can she stay on the Realm? More importantly, will she have a choice?
It’s been a long time since a Middle Grade (MG) historical fiction has caught my interest. Secrets of the Realm by Bev Stout drew me in hook, line, and sinker and kept me interested and wanting more throughout the whole book. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect right off the bat with this one, I knew that it was historical fiction, but the title of the novel sounded somewhat mystical to me. While I was slightly surprised to see that it wasn’t, I wasn’t the least bit disappointed in the story. Secrets of the Realm is a gem of a book!
Anne/Andres is a wonderful character who you are rooting for from the beginning to the end. I was constantly wondering if her crew mates were going to discover her secret— that the captain’s cabin boy is really a female in disguise. Annie was everything you could want in a young female protagonist. She was extremely independent and brave in an environment where many people thought women did not belong. It is easy for children and adults alike to connect with such a strong character.
The supporting characters in this book were equally as intriguing. I found Doc to be one of my favorites. While he had a sad story, he was kind to Annie and took on such a wonderful fatherly role. Captain Hawke was an interesting man of many secrets, some of which I would still like to find out. The rest of the crew ranged from hilarious and endearing to unpredictable and somewhat frightening. I couldn’t help but fall in love with them all as well as the story.
Secrets of the Realm was not only a wonderful, sea-faring voyage, but it was a rare look at a coming-of-age story.
Check out my interview with Bev Stout here