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The Dark Lady

The Dark Lady

Hodder Children's Books
ISBN: 9781444943696

For a street kid from the Devil's Gap, London's most notorious slum, life is short and tough. For Henry, a boy thief with brown skin inherited from a mother who abandoned him, life is tougher still. The Dark Lady enters his dreams at night. She seems to represent a past, and a possible future...

Steal or starve, cheat or be cheated, take control of his life or let the cruel order of Shakespearean London rule over him. These are Henry's impossible choices in a world that rejects him. So Henry learns to read, he trains to become the best thief the Gap has ever seen, and he also hones a magical gift that holds the key to his freedom. But when a cruel duke offers knowledge, power and riches in exchange for the betrayal of his best friend, Henry's choices are more impossible than ever.

Right from the start of this brilliantly atmospheric debut YA novel, you know that Henry has dreams and aspirations, he most definitely wants more. It's clear he hates the stench and squalor of 'Romeville' - his favourite place is the Globe Theatre, the only person he wants to impress is Shakespeare and he can read and write, which is a sign of wealth and power. He is a first rate thief but in a set-up gets caught stealing from the duke's house along with with his step cousin, Mary, and eventually the duke finds out Henry's incredible power - his ability to translate books in any language - and this proves to be life-changing for Henry, but brings questions for him about friendship, and finding out about his roots.

The Dark Lady is a compelling rollercoaster of a journey. It's incredibly atmospheric, you feel transported to the sights, sounds and smells of Shakespearean London, all thanks to the incredibly engaging storytelling of Akala. It's full of guilt, revenge and a little bit of magic, the perfect combination for this sophisticated YA historical novel. You simply won't be able to put this one down. Cue the sequel!

320 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Lucy Georgeson, school librarian


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