By Royal Command

Written by Mary Hooper
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley Rachel Beggs

Elizabethan England. In this sequel to At the House of the Magician, Lucy, maid to the queen’s magician Dr Dee, is now a royal spy. She has been asked to keep her eyes and ears open for treason, for there are those who would prefer Mary, Queen of Scots, to be queen of England. Her friend, Tomas, the queen’s jester, tells her that one of the queen’s ladies-in-waiting is under suspicion.

But there are worrying events closer to home. Lucy hears strange sighings in Dr Dee’s house. Where do they come from? She can find nothing. Then there is Dr Dee’s scryer, Kelly, who can apparently communicate with angels – which Lucy doubts. When she overhears a conversation between the credulous Dr Dee and Kelly, involving an unscrupulous money-making plot, Lucy is horrified. To interfere would be dangerous, but does she have an option?

And what about the new tutor to the Dee daughters, a man who declares he hates the court? Could he be a traitor? Throw in a Frost Fair on the Thames, a visit to Richmond Palace – by royal decree – on Christmas Eve, and Lucy has more than enough on her plate.

Mary Hooper offers a fascinating glimpse into Elizabethan life, for example, Dr Dee’s over-worked cook’s frantic attempts to create a feast for his important guests – including a sneaky way of presenting carefully spiced and coloured mutton as venison. The Thames Frost Fair is wonderfully evoked, too, as is a court masque with its elaborate costumes and stage effects. Add this to Lucy’s nail-biting adventures involving hair’s-breadth escapes, midnight excursions and a man who is not who he appears to be, and you have a very readable book as well as a supporting text for Elizabethan studies.
Aimed at girls, 11-14 years.

Elizabeth Hawksley

This book is full of mystery and adventure, with just a hint of romance. The plot is interesting because you honestly do not know what is going to happen. The whole twist with Miss Madeleine Pryor was exciting to read and very unpredictable.

There wasn’t much description of the characters because most of them were in the previous book, At the House of the Magician, but you find out a lot more about what Dr. Dee and Mr. Kelly are like because of the whole Miss Charity storyline.

The descriptions of the places, especially of the queen’s palace and court were very good and it was easy to capture a picture in the mind’s eye of what they were like.

Rachel Beggs, Age 13