Secrets of the Realm
Blamed for her uncle’s death, fifteen-year-old Annie is on the run. Knowing the perils she will face on the streets of eighteenth century London, she disguises her gender and quickly fulfils her dream of a life at sea by becoming cabin boy to Captain Hawke of the Realm. However, not only must Annie work alongside the crew of outcasts and gentlemen, she must also keep her suspicious shipmates from discovering that she is a girl. Inevitably, her past catches up with her and she is returned to her family — but will she ever be able to resume her life aboard the Realm?
To get the most from this YA novel, you must read it as though you were a twelve-year-old and aside matters that might otherwise bother you. Quite a few aspects of the plot are implausible, and while the author’s research into maritime matters of the period is clearly thorough, the protocol and etiquette of life among the nobility later in the story lacks accuracy. The dialogue also — especially toward the end — contains too many modernisms. That said, given the audience, the author uses accessible language, paints vivid pictures of life at sea and has not shied away from including elements of goriness that teen readers will love. It is very much a book of two halves, the second half — where perhaps the author is on less familiar territory — feeling somewhat rushed to a conclusion.