Blood and Allegiance by Annette Hart
|Blood and Allegiance by Annette Hart|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: An exciting story for the older tween which demonstrates how loyalties can be tested even within families. One or two scenes might disturb a very sensitive reader so you might wish to read the book yourself to judge. It's no hardship and you're bound to be desperate to know what happens next! Annette Hart was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 163||Date: January 2009|
|Publisher: Nightingale Books|
Bryony was orphaned when she was very young and since then has lived in the Abbey at Ambleton, but once she reached her fourteenth birthday her cousin, Unwin, King of Athlandia, required that she join him at court. She lost the only friends she had known, her clothes were replaced with much grander garments and she became a part of the inner circle of the court. It wasn't long before she realised that her cousin was far from benevolent – but he was fighting an uprising and perhaps what he was doing was necessary. Then Milly, her maid, is punished for stepping slightly out of line and Bryony realises how little she knows of other people in Kynbury and even of the history of her own family.
The first thing you need to do is to forget all about trying to place the story in terms of time. The clothes, the transport, the internecine fighting all suggest pre-Tudor times, but gardens have makeovers and some names – Ed, Stan and Dean, for instance – suggest the twentieth century. Don't worry about it – children don't care about such things. Forget too about trying to place Athlandia or Nordmark or any other places you'll see mentioned. This is fantasy without the magical aspects.
But it is a magical story. You'll love Bryony. She might be just fourteen but she can think for herself and she has a strong sense of what's right and wrong. Violence makes her feel sick and King Unwin has no compunction about who's about when he takes his revenge. It's not common for servants to be treated as equals, but lacking other friends Bryony treats her maid, Milly, almost as a sister. When something happens which changes her perception of Unwin – and other family members – Bryony has to decide where her loyalties rest.
There are one or two scenes which might upset a particularly sensitive child but that's my only (very minor) quibble. It's going to be compelling reading for the older tween girl. Once I got into the story I found myself carrying the book around with me and reading a little more at any opportunity. It's exciting, with great pace and dramatic tension which had me on the edge of the chair. We're not keen on cliff-hanger endings here at Bookbag as we find that children usually need to know the outcome of a story without waiting for the next book to be published, so be warned that you are going to have to buy the next book in the series to find out what happens next – and that's just you! Heaven knows what the young reader will be thinking. Fortunately the next book in the series is available!
I'd like to thank the author for sending a copy to Bookbag.
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Annette Hart was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.