The Forsaken Queen by Paul Nolen

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Afternnnnnnoon readers and once again happy Monday; If you haven’t noticed there have been many a review here recently and it’s because I’m having a little bit of a lifestyle change. When you’re at university and you’ve drank a pink of vodka the night before and eaten a pile of cheesy chips knowing you only have to attempt to make it to your four o’ clock lecture which will be on the Internet for you to look back at what you’ve missed you don’t have a huge amount to worry about. Now, as an adult with a full-time job you kind of have to look after yourself a little more; this means going to bed earlier, getting up earlier, reading instead of binge watching Supernatural and going for runs. I’ve just given myself a little more time, I try to stay off my phone a little more. It means I’ve got a lot more time to read and so a lot more books to review. I’m sure the influx will eventually die down but for now: the reviews are going to continue coming out of my ears. Today’s is an adventure you don’t want to miss.

What if our history is not as we think it – but as others want it to be? What if we believe only what others want us to believe? When a security guard at Hampton Court claims to have been attacked by a ghost, no one believes him, except that is, for three inquisitive children. A school trip provides them with an opportunity to investigate the guard’s claims, but when they slip away from their party, and conceal themselves within the darkest recesses of the palace, they encounter far more than they could possibly have imagined.Together with his new found friends, Dominique and Simeon, he scours the Great Castles of London, to unravel the secrets of the past, that have so long been locked away. The nearer he comes to the truth, the more he realises that not everything, or everyone, is what he once thought them to be.

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So the blurb is quite extensive so I’m not going to re-tell it to you but instead I’m going to get straight into the nitty-gritty if you like. The plot is really strong and a brilliant fit for the target audience of eleven plus. I think the genre mix of historical fiction/fantasy/adventure is a really strong mix and makes it a versatile read. As the blurb states the book follows the attack of a security guard at Hampton court which leads to Henry and his friends, Simeon and Dominque, going on a quest to unearth what is really going on. They deal with missing shoes, a surprise finding of a letter, the spilling of some rather special ink, an unfortunate event in the boiler room and a near miss with death. What more could an eleven year old reader want from a book.

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In terms of characterisation all three are contrasted and written really strongly. I loved that Henry was a little quiet and stubborn but we really see him challenge himself through the book. I didn’t warm to Simeon throughout the book and at the end when the final twist occurs I think I was right to make that judgement however he’s still described well; a little stuck-up, intelligent and sure of himself he contrasts with Henry brilliantly. Dominique is both determined, graceful and full-on and I empathised with her and the pressures her parents were putting upon her. It all felt very genuine and lovingly portrayed. I thought the plot was really intriguing; I’m not going to give too much away because if I do it will spoil it, but it revolves around some rather special letters that could change the way we thought of Henry the 8th and his wife Jane Seymour.

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In terms of writing style it’s quite simple which is good because the plot it so full-on. There are twists and turns, adversities, near misses and with too much description it could bog down the plot and make it a lot slower. It moves with a lot of pace so you’re constantly gabbling to keep up and I think in terms of the target audience that’s what you want rather than long twisting descriptions. Overall this is a real credit to the author and I would have adored this as a younger reader. The mystery, suspense and the adventure added to the fantasy feel. In terms of the plot I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll say this, parents, if you’re trying to get your troublesome early teens to read a little more; this is for you and anyone else that just loves a good adventure.

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