Secrets of the Realm - Bev Stout
Secrets of the Realm by Bev Stout is an outstanding YA Historical Adventure set n the high seas. The author has perfectly described the settings of the day - 18 century England, The Realm and all the characters with loving attention for detail. The language is spot on and behaviours of the time towards women are suitably used as the heart of this wonderful novel.
15 year old Annie has always been blamed for her family troubles, so when her uncle dies in an accident she is found to be at fault. To avoid a life of torture and abuse, young Annie runs away, ending up on the filthy streets of London. She is reduced to begging for bread, but soon is starving to the point of no return. Pure luck sees her attract the attention of Captain Hawke, a ruthless sea captain but honest.
Annie disguises herself and is hired as cabin boy to Captain Hawke.
Once on the ship the story races off with wondrous action, seafaring details of the time and tension as Annie must conceal her real identity. Seafarers at the time thought it bad luck to have a female crew member and over the side was a distinct possibility. But Annie is not only clever, well read and brave, she is also forthright and often outspoken even to the Captain. And there are many adventures for Annie as The Realm's course crosses the vast oceans where pirates lurk.
This beautifully written novel took me back to my childhood and reminded me of Mark Twain and I thank the author for writing such a masterpiece of historical fiction.
FIVE STARS and very highly recommended.