Before venturing back and forth in time with this historical and
futuristic adventure novel, Ann Benson was best known for her beads. The idea for The Plague Tales
came to her during a period of research in London for one of her craft books; passing by an open plot of ground, she learned that it was a mass grave for 14th-century victims of the bubonic plague, inspiring her own fantastic version of the disastrous disease's effects.
The Plague Tales consists of two parallel stories: one an account of a king's physician in 14th-century England, the other a tale of futuristic London--a time when antibiotics no longer cure and "Bio-Cops," empowered to exterminate those suspected of carrying disease, prowl the streets.
From School Library Journal
YA. First time novelist Benson tells a parallel tale of 14th- and 21st-century England, centered on the ever-fascinating Bubonic Plague. Alejandro Canches, a 14th-century Spanish physician, becomes the Papal appointment to the English court of Edward III. He is consigned the task of keeping the court alive during the Plague years beginning in 1348. The descriptions of treatments, daily life, and death during these terrible times are fascinating. Alternating chapters take place in 2005, a few years after the "Outbreak" and the end of antibiotic effectiveness against microbes. This is a world of biocops who shoot to kill if the infected try to escape, where transatlantic travel must be done in sterile gowns and masks, and "body printing" eliminates any semblance of privacy. Physician Janie Crow, in England for mandatory retraining since the drastic drop in population has rendered her surgical skills obsolete, accidentally unleashes the 14th-century plague bacillus on an ill-prepared London. This adventure grabs readers and carries them back and forth in time on the trail of the deadly bacteria. The blend of historical color and current biotechnology trends will have great appeal to young adults. It works as historical fiction, science fiction, or a technology thriller.?Carol DeAngelo, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA
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