From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up It's four years since At the Sign of the Star
(Farrar, 2000) ended, and Meg Moore, now 16, still loves bookselling, reading, and, most of all, penning her own stories. Although she no longer dreams about inheriting her father's bookstore, due to his remarriage and the birth of his son, she still hopes to overcome 17th-century English society's disapproval of writing as a pastime for respectable women and see her work in print. She thinks that marrying a bookseller may be her strongest hope for the unconventional future she desires. When her friend Anne's brother announces his departure for Italy and hints about declaring his love, Meg pretends not to understand his intentions and jokes that perhaps he will be seized by pirates. She regrets these words when news comes that Edward's homeward-bound ship has indeed been captured and that he has been sold into slavery in Algiers. Meg's guilt inspires her to raise funds to pay his ransom, but it doesn't stop her from privately writing a lurid account of the horrors she imagines he is suffering. A potential romance with her father's apprentice, her worries over Anne's unhappy marriage, and Meg's reactions to a much-changed, returned Edward flesh out this intriguing, believable glimpse into Restoration London. Although Meg is frustrated by her society's restrictions, Sturtevant does not attempt to solve her heroine's problems by imposing 21st-century solutions there is no doubt that the teen lives within the limitations of her own time. This solid work of historical fiction stands easily on its own. Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA
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*Starred Review* Gr. 6-9. In this sequel to At the Sign of the Star
(2000), 16-year-old Meg, living in seventeenth-century London, struggles to sort out her conflicted feelings about two suitors. One, Edward, asks Meg what he can bring back for her from his sea voyage. Meg flippantly inquires if he can "manage to be captured by pirates and enslaved in North Africa," offering a new narrative for her father's bookstore to sell. Meg's silly reply haunts her when she learns that Edward has indeed been kidnapped and enslaved. Meanwhile, Will, her father's apprentice, helps her collect the money needed to secure Edward's release and hopes to win her heart. When Edward returns, Meg finds him changed by his brutal experiences in captivity and fascinated by Muslim society in Algiers, where a kind master treated him as a son. As he tells his promised story, Edward's description of his experiences challenges conventional English assumptions of Muslim culture and broadens Meg's worldview. Sturtevant once again offers readers a story depicted with great clarity and many vivid details of everyday life. Written in the first-person, the narrative reveals Meg as a strong-willed yet vulnerable young woman who emerges as a well-rounded, convincing individual, able to see events from different viewpoints. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved