The Pale Assassin

Written by Patricia Elliott
Review by Nancy Castaldo

Eugenie de Boncoeur is a typical 14-year-old aristocrat in France during its Revolution: unaware and frivolous. Although her portrayal is historically accurate, modern teen readers might find it difficult to relate to her in Part One of Patricia Elliott’s The Pale Assassin. Eugenie doesn’t realize her guardian has promised her in marriage to the renowned cold-hearted revolutionary, Le Fantome. Her brother, Armand, must protect her, although he is caught up in the revolution himself. Elliott does a great job of fleshing out Armand’s character in Part One, and readers might even find themselves more invested in him than they are with Eugenie.

Part Two brings about a change for Eugenie as she escapes France for England and is pursued by Le Fantome. Without her brother beside her, she becomes courageous and quick-witted. The pace quickens, and Eugenie awakens into a character readers will care about as she is chased across the countryside. Elliott does a terrific job of introducing readers to Revolutionary-era France from the point of view of the aristocrat. She follows up the story with a historical note and timeline. A great read for students of global studies.