I don't remember why I bought THE STOLEN ONE by Suzanne Crowley. It may have been a rec from another blogger, or I might have been drawn to the cover and jacket blurb. It sat in my to-be-read stack for some months, because I add and add to my collection of unread books until they sigh mournfully about my neglect.
When I finally read this YA historical mystery last week, I was glued to the skillfully woven tale of yearning and deceit. I've picked it to showcase in Elana Johnson's Spreading the Awesome event today. More than 60 bloggers are spreading the word about books and authors that rock. So check out this list and get some recs!
Mostly, I read fantasy, paranormal, dystopian kinds of books. THE STOLEN ONE is a bit different for me.
The setting is Elizabethan England. Kat, a girl from a simple village, has always felt she didn't belong there and has an insatiable drive to learn the identity of her real mother. She isn't content with the love of a handsome farmer boy or the loyalty of her sister, and she disregards their feelings in her quest to learn her roots. And while she thinks she's unearthed the secrets about her family, she has actually misconstrued the evidence. She discovers the duplicity of court life, learns the loneliness of monarchs and finds what she truly desires along the way.
Kat's skill at embroidery gets her into Queen Elizabeth's court and gives us eyes into this fashionable world: Lady Ludmore pulled out the fanciest piece, a luscious seawater green velvet, a damask pattern of cowslips and fall leaves gently sewn on the surface, pale gold bugles shaped like flowers set within.
The allure of this book, though, is the artfully-woven mystery. The sense of danger and intrigue begins as early as the opening paragraphs, where Kat says Grace, the woman who's raised her, calls her hair Wolf's bait and says the color is red as Queen Elizabeth's.
Grace reminds me of a Greek chorus with her sharp, cautionary words: Coveting beautiful things is a sin, a sin that attracts greater sins, Grace always warned. "Be humble of what you have. It is enough." Grace needed not know what I wore underneath my dress that night--a lovely red taffeta petticoat, stitched secretly and hidden from Grace. It felt wonderful against my skin, devil's color or no.
This novel is born of a what-if scenario based on a real-life queen's daughter, who disappeared from history, but I don't want to say anymore in hopes you will read THE STOLEN ONE. I was fascinated to learn that Crowley's family lore claims she is a distant relative of Lady Jane Grey--the nine-day queen beheaded by her cousin, Mary. Check out Suzanne Crowley's web site for more about the author, the book and the era.
As part of my celebration this week for my one-year blogversary and reaching more than 200 followers, I'm going to give THE STOLEN ONE to one of you lucky readers. Simply leave me a comment and I will draw a name. Another contest will follow in a couple of days. Happy Monday, happy May, everyone!
Added May 5th: Contest now closed. Randomly chosen winner will be announced in my next post, which includes a new contest.