Tuesday 11 August 2020

The Fire Star


The Fire Star by AL Tait (Penguin Books) PB RRP $16.99


Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Australian children’s author AL Tait is known internationally known for her

book series (such as the Ateban Cipher and The Mapmaker Chronicles); here

she begins a new series The Fire Star, sub-titled A Maven and Reeve Mystery.

Set in a time of kings, knights, lords, and ladies, the story begins with a servant

girl Maven accompanying her mistress Lady Cassandra to the castle of Sir 

Garrick Sharp, Protector of Rannart Castle on the eve of Cassandra and

Garrick’s wedding. Also at the castle is Reeve, Sir Garrick’s new squire who

dreams of becoming a knight.

Cassandra is wearing the Firestar, a gemstone worth a king’s ransom. However,

within a day, the jewel goes missing, presumably stolen. Cassandra’s uncle Airl

Buckt says she will be sent to a nunnery if it’s not recovered as he wants it for

his daughter, Lady Anice. Airl says if Reeve doesn’t find the stone soon, he will

be sent home to his parents in disgrace. After finding a dead man who is a clue

to the mystery, Reeve is joined in his search by Maven. In doing this, the two

unlikely allies become firm friends as they attempt to recover the jewel.

One of the most interesting aspects of this fast-paced mystery is the upper-class

people, their relationships and beliefs, and the politics of medieval times. There

is also a sub-plot involving a secret society of self-educated women who are

bound to always help all girls and women. Chapters jump between third- and

first-person perspective as the story switches between Reeve and Maven’s point

of view but the author writes so clearly this does not present a problem.

This middle-grade historical adventure novel is suitable for readers aged nine

and older and is sure to be enjoyed by AL Tait’s fans.

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