The Secret of the Rose by Sarah L. Thomson
Genre: YA, mystery, historical fiction
Published on August 1, 2006
Published by Greenwillow Books
Read From: 11.28.11 - 12.1.11
Rosalind Archer has secrets. Her father is in jail. She and her brother, Robin, are in hiding. Desperate to survive, she cuts her hair and disguises herself as a boy.
When the popular playwright Christopher Marlowe takes on Rosalind as his servant and scribe, she hopes that she and Robin will be safe, at least for a time. But Marlowe has secrets, too, and he is involved in something more sinister than writing plays for the Rose Theatre. A paper scribbled with mysterious symbols, an urgent warning, and a blood-stained letter all hint at danger that Rosalind is only beginning to understand.
Rosalind's own secrets could lead to her death. But as she is pulled deeper into Marlowe's life, she finds that his secrets are just as deadly and even more likely to be revealed. And when they are, Marlowe isn't the only one who will be in peril. . . .
A splendid mystery, engaging from beginning to end. The Author keeps Readers in absolute suspense over what Marlowe's secret is, revealing nothing too soon nor concealing important facts for too long. And unless you know about Christopher Marlowe's life, the end will come as a surprise. The characters are wonderfully realistic - in sense and in personality - and Rosalind an especially good and enjoyable heroine. While there is a slight romance between her and another boy at the playhouse, it doesn't cause her to become annoying like so many heroines. She remains consistent and level-headed.
The writing itself is close to brilliant. Sarah L. Thomson's use of Elizabethan English in her dialogue brings authenticity to the 1592 London setting in a way no amount of descriptions could have. But have no fear, Readers - the dialogue is not at all hard to understand, and I found it really fun to read and pronounce.
I have no complaints for this book. Rosalind's male disguise brings about no awkward occurrences like in the Jacky Faber series, and yet the Author handles it quite realistically. The one scene where Rosalind, still dressed as a girl, is attacked by a man is written with great delicacy - no details, nothing comes of it - indeed, the Author never even outright says that the man is trying to have his way with her (even though it's obvious what he wants). This is one of those little-known books that is an absolute joy, and I hope that other Readers enjoy it as much as I did.