YA Historical Fiction (321 pgs.)
An orphan, young Lady Catherine rises to become one of Queen Elizabeth's favorite maids of honor--until her romance with the dashing adventurer Sir Walter Ralegh is discovered. In a fit of jealousy, the queen banishes Cate to the fledgling colony on Roanoke Island.
Sustained by the hope that Sir Walter will soon join her, Cate learns to face the unexpected hardships and dangers of the New World. Torn by conflict and mistrust, and with their numbers dwindling, the colonists are forced to rely on Manteo, a mysterious Croatoan Indian, for their survival. Manteo, who calls Cate his Moon Maiden...
But is Manteo truly a friend, or will he betray the English to their enemies? And Sir Walter in England--has he forgotten his beloved, or will he come to claim her? As the months pass without rescue, Cate turns her gaze from the past and considers the possibility of a new love. Then one day a ship arrives--and Cate must make an agonizing choice.
Lisa Klein, in my opinion, is one of the best YA authors out there. I love her historical fiction books, because she always puts a new twist on famous events, stories, and legends. However, this book seemed to be one exception.
I really wanted to fall in love with this book, but I just couldn't. When I first picked it up, I was so excited to read it! My history-geek brain was drooling... this is one of my favorite time periods in history, and written by such a brilliant author. But this one sort of fell short.
Cate, our heroine, I could never really connect/sympathize with. She just never really fascinated me. She didn't grab my attention. Sure, she was brave and adventurous, willing to befriend the Indians, which I think is great, but she came off as rather flat to me, emotional wise.
I think the best-written character in this book was a tie between Sir Walter Ralegh/Manteo. Both had complex challenges and problems to face, but overcame them. Both showed devotion to the ones they loved. Both fought hard to keep the fledgling colony alive. I really admired these two, for all they sacrificed.
I also didn't like the way Lisa Kelin portrayed Queen Elizabeth I in this book, but I think that's just bias on my part. Court life back then was a lot more treacherous than I think we see it today. Royalty was fickle; even the ones who seemed "perfect" had their faults.
The middle-back half of the book was hard to get through. Bascially, the Indians, led by the war-hungry Wanchese, and the colonists go back and forth in what seems like an endless tug of war. It actually became quite annoying after a while. No one could decide who to trust, people kept attacking other people, opinions were divided... no one could agree on anything. I was so relieved when SPOLIER Manteo finally killed Wanchese END SPOILER. After that, the plot healed itself.
The romance between Sir Walter and Cate was hard to grasp. It was a little unrealistic when Cate was at the colony and she was longing after Sir Walter... he never told her that he loved her, ever. And yet, she was expecting him to come to her rescue. Just a bit fanciful, in my humble opinion.
I did like the ending of the book, however. SPOILER The fact that Cate ends up with Manteo instead of the perfect Mr. Ralegh was very refreshing. END SPOILER That ended the book on a good note for me.
Another plus side was the historical detail. Ms. Klein gets an A+ in that category! It is perfectly researched and really gives you a picture of how hard life was for those unfortunate colonists. And to my delight, she includes an Author's Note in the back to explain the history behind her story, which I always love and appreciate.
All in all, this book was a bit of a letdown. Not one of Lisa Klein's greatest. If you want to see Lisa Klein at her best, I strongly recommend Ophelia. Now that was a great book.