Sovay by Celia Rees
Paperback, 432 pages
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
June 22, 2010
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Source: Personal collection
“Sovay begins her life as a highway robber to test her lover, but she is living in dangerous times, full of fear, with the spectre of the Revolution in France reaching across the Channel. Sovay’s father has disappeared, the family are tainted by accusations of treason. Sovay takes to the road in earnest to clear her name and quickly becomes entangled in a terrible web of deceit and duplicity. Can she escape before the net closes in on her and all around her?”The description of this book was the first thing that pulled me into squeezing this book in between more serious reads – I also liked the prospect of a fast paced read. And while the description makes you think it is mostly about Sovay as a highway robber – that isn’t the primary focus – only a part of it. This novel is based on a traditional ballad of the same name – and one of the very early scenes in this book plays out very close to that ballad. After that, the story takes on a life of its own – set during a time of great upheaval in England and France. You get a strong sense of the Reign of Terror happening in France and how those events are sparking unrest and turmoil in England itself.
I thought that this was a very well done YA novel. Lately a lot of what you get is love triangles – with a primary focus on the romance, and lack a great adventure thread. This novel had the right measures of romance and adventure. Right from the first few pages you get caught up in the drama of highway robbery and the story keeps going from there – it doesn’t really ever slow down. The romance aspect is slight – you catch a glint of Sovay’s interest in several of the men she encounters and of course she ends up with someone by the end – but it doesn’t hit you in the face and make it a primary focus. The romance is really more of a side note. The historical is also well woven in – you get the setting and the feeling of the era while most of the characters are fictional. I don’t think it is something when a young adult would find abrasive or a turn off.
The only thing that I didn’t like about this novel – and the reason it isn’t a perfect 5 for me – is her choice of man at the end of the book. It sort of came out of thin air and didn’t feel extremely believable. Other possibilities were built up more and would have made more sense. Other than that, I really enjoyed this quick, light, adventure romp.
Author Celia Rees also has written Witch Child, Sorceress, Pirates! and The Fool’s Girl. You can visit Rees’ website for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out chapter 1 of the book?
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