Nancy O'Toole's Reviews > Prisoners in the Palace

Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl
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's review
May 30, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, library, young-adult
Read from May 23 to 24, 2011

When Liza's parents die in a sudden accident, the seventeen-year-old finds her life turned upside down. Suddenly she is without money, and in significant debt. When she's presented with the opportunity to work as a maid for Princess Victoria in Kensington Palace, Liza jumps on it as a way to turn her life around. Only she quickly learns that she was not hired for her intelligence or ability to sew. There are those in Kensington that desire to take the throne away from the young princess, and Liza's real duty is to spy on them.

I picked up Prisoners in the Palace for a few reasons. One is I found myself in the mood to read historical fiction based in Victorian London (and Y.S. Lee's final Mary Quinn book has not been released yet). Also, I have recently become interesting in the life of Queen Victoria (thanks in part to the movie The Young Victoria). Finally, it is one of the books on this year's Maine Student Book Awards list, of which I am trying to read as many as possible. I was quite happy to find that Prisoners in the Palace is a very satisfying historical fiction novel, filled with intrigue, suspense, and just the right amount of romance.

Liza is very likable protagonist, an intelligent and resourceful young woman who suddenly finds herself in a difficult situation. I thought her romance with the newspaper editor, Will Fulton, was handled well. I was a little surprised with the characterization of Victoria, who is presented as rather self-centered and immature. This is very different from other depictions that I have read of her, although it does make sense, given her isolated childhood. The storyline depicts a subtle tug of war for power between our heroes (Liza and Victoria), and Sir John, who desires to control the future Queen of England through her mother, the Duchess. One way this war is played out is through the use of the press, as a way to manipulate public opinion. I thought this was quite well done. In between the chapters of the book are newspaper clippings, letters, and diary entries. I thought this was a clever way to depict the passage of time without slowing down he pace of the novel.

Prisoners in the Palace is a satisfying young adult historical fiction novel by author Michaela MaColl. I thought it was a great read with a great ending. I am looking forward to reading more books by this new author.

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Reading Progress

05/23/2011 page 122
33.0% "So far, really liking this one. It reminds me of Y.S. Lee's Agency Series."
05/24/2011 page 204
55.0% "Hmmm Princess Victoria and Prince Albert are A LOT different than the way they were portrayed in The Young Victoria."
05/24/2011 page 368
100.0% "Just finished this one. I liked it a lot! Review coming soon."

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