Saturday, September 14, 2013

Book Review: Linnet

Title: Linnet
Author: Sally Watson
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Rating: ****
Official Rating: Children's Fiction
Age Group: 10+
Linnet is not very happy with her life, especially since she has to spend the summer with her godparents and their son Giles. Indeed, Giles is by far the most annoying boy she's ever met. It's a good thing he seems to think the same of her.
When Linnet decides to walk all the way to London to visit her cousins, she is kidnapped by a man who is mixed up in all sorts of crazy plots involving the Queen and "Papists." Not entirely aware that she's been kidnapped at all, Linnet agrees to go along with Colley's plans. She even befriends the gang of thieves he's trained.
But when Colley turns out to be a bit of a con man, Linnet finds herself in serious trouble.
It's a good thing Giles doesn't think too badly of her after all.

Word of Warning
  • Possibly some British swearing. It's hard to tell, as I don't have much background in British literature or culture, but there are at least moments where exclamations are made which are completely unfamiliar to me.
  • Colley trains thieves and they see nothing wrong with their way of life.
  • Many of the thieves are treated as dumb and unable to learn anything.
  • Linnet is disrespectful, doesn't know how to keep her mouth shut, and is incredibly na├»ve. She's also rather cruel to Giles.
  • Catholics are all seen as evil and assumed to be plotting to kill Queen Elizabeth.
  • Queen Elizabeth is seen as a sort of goddess by those in London and portrayed as such in the book (in a slightly mocking way, strangely enough).
  • Linnet struggles with moral problems such as lying and breaking promises. She concludes that she will not do such things even to papists, while Colley has no problems with doing so and is frustrated (and amused) that she won't.
  • Linnet is almost killed by Colley, though that possibility isn't entirely clear and never truly shown.
  • People are punched, kicked, and tossed about. Some of them are children, but they're never injured.
  • The thieves are portrayed as animals in a way, but do eventually improve in status (thanks to Linnet).
  • The bad guy gets away.
The Good (because I can't resist)
  • It's a fun relatively innocent historical fiction story. It's been a while since I've read historical fiction, and I'm starting to wonder why in the world I ever stopped.
  • Linnet treats the thieves as real people. She teaches them to bathe, to talk properly, and to read.
  • Giles is actually a pretty cool character. He spends the entire book searching for Linnet in London because he knows she ran away and doesn't want her to get hurt. In the end, he actually marches into the den of the kidnapper to find her (though it's clear he completely underestimates Colley). His devotion is mocked by those around him and he refuses to give up until he finds Linnet.
My Thoughts
Let's see. It was pretty innocent, it was historical fiction, it was very convincing, Giles was awesome, and even Colley was charming (in a bad guy sort of way). What's not to like?
Honestly, the problems are rather small, all things considered. It's hard to find good historical fiction and I've found plenty of bad stuff.
There really isn't much to say about a book like this. Many of its problems rest in the time period it portrays. Beyond that, it's just a short and fun adventure.


grandma jane said...

Thanks for this review. I found your comment interesting, about it being hard to find good historical fiction.

I had not thought about the lack of good material as I'd read this is still a hot market. And then, perhaps that it why....

What I take away from this is that if you wish to read better than average material in this genre, you may need to search for the author(s) who consistently puts out quality material. And you may have to dig.

Stacy C said...

Yay! You read Linnet!!! I hope you got all her other books too. :D

There was one bit that I'm going to mention(and it's actually really hard to catch when you're reading it because the whole book is written in thieves' cant, so it's not regular English), but Colley makes several inappropriate remarks about Linnet, suggesting that she be his "doxy", or "mistress" in our terminology. It's really really really hard to pick up on that though, and it doesn't detract from the book. :)

Maria Gianna said...

Grandma Jane,
I suspect that because this genre is so popular it can be hard to find good stuff. There is so much out there, and I've often found that the more there is available, the harder it is to find anything good. It's almost like it's easier for the less valuable to sneak in.

Yes, I'm working on some others right now :)
Thank you for adding that. I completely forgot about it when I wrote the review. The thieves cant totally threw me off, I admit, as well as the Old English (an area I'm not well acquainted with). Good catch!