Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Secret of the Sealed Room

By Bailey MacDonald
Aladdin, 2010. 208 pgs. Fiction

History goes down like ice cream in this winning novel about colonial days. Fourteen year old Patience Martin is an indentured servant in the Worth household where she works long and hard for an abusive mistress. When Mrs. Worth dies under mysterious circumstances, her brother threatens to sell Patience's indentures cheaply to anyone who will make her life miserable, show she runs away. When Mrs. Worth is discovered to have died from arsenic poisoning her midwife, Moll Bacon, is imprisoned and the law looks for Patience for an even scarier reason than her having skipped out on Richard Worth. Luckily Patience has a friend in young Ben Franklin who hides her in the back of his brother's print shop. Together they work out the riddle of Mrs. Worth's death but it takes all their combined courage and ingenuity to carry the day. Suspenseful and exciting, The Secret of the Sealed Room is also loaded with information about the early days of the Republic, almost always seamlessly blended into the narrative. This book would be an excellent choice for reluctant readers of (assigned) historical fiction.

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