Sunday 17 May 2015


Reviewed by Jackie Marchant

I’ve read many books with ‘daughter’ in the title.  The such and such’s daughter, struggling not to be defined by their parent.  But I’ve never come across a book where the daughter is expected to catch heads as they roll off the executioner’s block.  For this is Tudor England and Moss’s dad is the Tower of London’s most skilled executioner.

Moss doesn’t like her job.  She doesn’t like her dad’s job either, can’t understand why he sits and polishes his axe like his most prized possession.  But life behind the walls of The Tower is all she’s known – a life brought vividly to life with its ingenious cussing and personal hygiene we’d rather not think about

Now that Moss is nearly twelve, the life she has is no longer enough.  She wants out of the Tower, to wander along the river Thames, be part of the hustle and bustle.  But, what she doesn’t know, is that her father has a good reason for keeping her there and, more importantly, away from the river.  For children have been disappearing and there is rumour of a riverwitch . .
Set around the background of King Henry VIII and his dissatisfaction with Anne Boleyn, there is plenty of rich historical reference here as well, with historical characters coming to life as much as the river Thames.

Despite the cover, which looks very YA to me, I’d put this firmly in the middle grade category.   I’ve read some negative reviews from those expecting a YA title and I think this is unfair.  Now, I’m not in favour of age-banding titles, but I do think this one should be marketed as middle grade – the language and the humour is perfect for that age group.  So I’m going to judge it as a book suitable for readers of 9+ and, as such, say that it is a cracking read.  But, if you’re looking for a gritty YA read, this is not it.


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