Tag Archives: Queen Victoria

The Queen must die – K.A.S. Quinn

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The Queen must die by K.A.S. Quinn. (Chronicles of the Tempus; book 1), Published by Corvus (Atlantic Books), 2011. Paperback, 298 pages.

From the publisher:

…Why is Katie Berger-Jones-Burg under a sofa in Buckingham Palace? The last thing she can remember is reading in her bedroom, trying to block out the sound of the TV. Now she is in London, at the height of Queen Victoria’s reign. Something very strange is going on.

Together with her two new friends – Princess Alice, the young daughter of Queen Victoria, and James O’Reilly, the son of the royal doctor – Katie must discover why she has been sent back in time. And who are the weird and frightening creatures who seek her out? The key, it seems, lies with the enigmatic Bernardo DuQuelle. As the dark forces moving through the royal household begin to take control, Katie and her friends uncover a plot to assassinate the Queen and unearth an even darker mystery…[Suspicious figures huddle in the gas-lit streets of London. And Katie is not the only time-traveller in the city… ]

Reviews and praise:

“Completely gripping, this rollercoaster time travel adventure takes Katie, a contemporary New York teenager, back right into the heart of Queen Victoria’s reign. Landing unexpectedly in the Buckingham Palace bedroom of Alice, Queen Victoria’s younger daughter, Katie is swiftly caught up in a terrifying world of dishonest courtiers plotting unspeakable acts with the help of powerful helpers with extra powers. The details of the life of the Victorian Royals, and especially Prince Albert’s passion for his original project of the Crystal Palace are brilliantly evoked while the adventure spearheaded by three exuberant children rattles along at a cracking pace” Lovereading4kids.co.uk

What did I think about this book?

I confess to having spent rather a long stretch on my sofa in the sun, reading this from cover to cover and luxuriating in the world the author has created. I loved it – I am not sure whether I am addicted to books set in Victorian London or whether there is a trend to use this setting in children’s books at the moment…maybe both. It means that there are some great books being written about this era, however this is very different than others set in this period, because this is set inside Buckingham Palace. This means there aren’t a lot of Dickensian allusions and impoverished characters, although there are plenty with sinister motives and villainous characters with evil intent. Katie Berger-Jones-Burg’s 21st Century New York life, and her dismay at the seemingly shallow obsessions of her ‘Mom’ are contrasted nicely with the formal and ‘proper’ nature of Victorian life at Court and couldn’t be more striking (and amusing!) However the similarity between Katie and Princess Alice are obvious – both have mothers that aren’t particularly maternal, and both have to live their lives relatively independently and are lonely. The time travel mechanism is handled well and it’s believable enough, especially if you are a reader who believes in the power of books as a means to escape. The reader is immersed in a great deal of historical material without feeling they are having a history lesson. It is fascinating seeing this time period through the eyes of Katie, who is like a modern day tourist guide to the past. Some of the things American readers might find amusing won’t have the same impact with a New Zealand audience, but it’s so well done, you can laugh along with Katie as she experiences cricket, victorian clothing and underwear and  chamber pots under the bed.

This book is the first in a planned trilogy, with the second book “The Queen at War” released recently. I wish I could convince more boys to read stories where the main character is a girl as this was a great read and highly recommended for the 10+ crowd.

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