THE QUEEN’S SECRET, by Jessica Day George , Bloomsbury Children’s Books, May 14, 2019, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)
The Queen’s Secret, the second book in Jessica Day George’s Rose Legacy trilogy, is so frustrating. Why? Because I’m going to have to wait a year for the next book!
In The Rose Legacy readers meet Anthea, an orphan who has been passed from relative to relative until finally she is sent to live with her long-lost uncle in a remote area where no one from Coronam would actively choose to live. Once there, she learns her uncle secretly breeds horses, which have been forbidden from her kingdom for centuries. Not only that, but Anthea seems to have the ability to sense the horses’ thoughts and feelings. When Coronam is put at risk, Anthea must push aside her fears and embrace the life she was meant to have.
The Queen’s Secret opens with Anthea and her friends from the Last Farm working for the king. They’ve convinced the king that they can help protect the kingdom by using The Way (a sort of telepathy between horses and their riders).
The problem is everyone in Coronam has been raised to believe that horses are carriers of deadly diseases. And when a deadly plague breaks out, the people naturally blame it on the horses. Anthea and her friends know their beloved horses are not the cause. In fact, the horses may hold the answer to a cure.
As the plague spreads, Anthea and her friends tirelessly work to transport medicine. But at every turn they appear to be thwarted, and it looks like someone from Anthea’s past may be the one to blame.
Oh, how I love middle grade. Especially well-written, engaging middle grade. When done right, readers slip easily between the pages and lines into a world that seems as real as the one in which they live. The Queen’s Secret (and The Rose Legacy) is one such book.
Opening the cover of The Queen’s Secret was like saying hello to old friends. Anthea is a delightful protagonist, as is her cousin Jilly and their compatriots. The horses are also main players, especially Florian, Anthea’s stallion.
The trilogy was born out of Jessica’s childhood love of horses, and it’s clear from reading, that that passion never faded too much. Jessica’s writing is polished and her world building is on point. I’ve enjoyed her books for some time now, and I’m never disappointed when I pick up a new one.
You really do need to read this trilogy in order, which means if you’re new to the series, you’ve got two great summer reads to add to your bookshelf.
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