Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



City of Cannibals

City of Cannibals

Fall 2010 Fiction
Ages: 13 - 17 yrs.
Author: Ricki Thompson
ISBN: 978-1-59078-623-9
Hardcover Price: $18.95
Review:

Dell's depressed, drunken father has always warned her about London, the City of Cannibals; after all, it was the vices and lechery of King Henry VIII that forced her beautiful mother's escape from court and then to her death at the hands of the King's soldiers. But Dell is driven to explore for herself, taking her puppet Bartholomew as a companion to seek out the handsome Brown Boy who brings supplies to her family and who haunts her thoughts. Once in the city, Dell is overwhelmed by the stench and confusion of Henry VIII's London. But she is touched, too, by the kindness she finds in new friends: coarse and knowing Margery, the fishmonger's daughter, intense and driven John the Joiner, gentle monk Brother Gregory, and her own beloved Brown Boy, bound as a novice monk although he has no vocation. Secluded in the hills and kept innocent of intrigue, Dell has no idea that in London, big events have been set in motion. She hears confusing talk of Oaths of Allegiance to the King, sees the looting of monasteries and cathedrals, and listens for hushed whispers of Anne Boleyn. Despite her fear of a traitor's execution, Dell is soon inspired to protect the lives of the monks who have helped her; and with the help of Bartholomew and her other puppets, she is emboldened to speak out against the King and his councilor Thomas Cromwell.

The English Renaissance is a popular topic for historical fiction, and for good reason; readers of all ages are interested in the mixture of beauty and cruelty representative of the time period-- the smell of offal clashing with the splendor of royal pageantry, and the spectacle of art, music, and theater transposed against the entertainment of public executions. And, of course, there's Henry VIII and all those wives. Thompson focuses on a particular pivotal moment-Henry's decision to make himself the head of the Church-and provides young readers with a fairly accurate idea of the ramifications for loyal Catholics and monasteries in the years that followed. A complex and well-written tale, the City of Cannibals delivers a most intriguing aspect in its ambivalent presentation of an Adam and Eve allegory; Dell may lose innocence, but she rises to a sense of grace. All offered with the added attraction of a fascinating and fully researched historical setting.

Naomi Lesley   ©2010 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

Look for this product at:
Boyds Mills Press
http://www.boydsmillspress.com

Share This