This YA historical fantasy novel is set in an alternative sixteenth century, based on the real-life conflict of the European dying industry’s resistance to imported Indian indigo. The plot offers intrigue and romance set amidst the conflict of global markets and politics – following the life of young Ren, a Lady’s maid who gets tangled up in the crisis against her will. The novel is well-researched and then transformed into its own unique fictional world through Ellen Phethean‘s strong imagination.
Should a country protect itself with walls and rules, and live in isolation from the rest of the world, never changing? Or is it better to share knowledge and goods, increasing wealth and trade?
With prescient relevance to the current state of international politics and its personal and emotional impact on individual lives, this novel would make an apt read for young adult readers at this time – encouraging an awareness of the complexities of global relations and an understanding of the variety of responses available to us. Seeing the world, as we do in this novel, through the particular eyes of Ren gives us a perspective on the details of living at a time of unprecedented political upheaval. Ren’s perspective can open up the possibilities of a life on the cusp of uncertainty in ways which will speak to YA readers. Her humanity and the novel’s central love story will particularly appeal to early-teenage girls with a sense for a good mix of personal morality and daring adventure.
Ellen Phethean will be at Reading and Being Read Newcastle on Saturday 18th February, 11am-4pm at Newcastle Library. Tickets are still available at £5 each, and Newcastle-based students can register for free. Click here for more details.