Secrets of the Realm
Author: Bev Stout
Goodreads | Purchase
Blamed for her uncle's death, fifteen-year-old Annie is on the run. Knowing the perils she will face on the streets of eighteenth century London, she disguises herself as a boy. Her life on the streets is cut short when she becomes Captain Hawke’s cabin boy.
Not only must Annie work alongside the Realm’s motley crew of outcasts and gentlemen, she must also keep her superstitious shipmates from discovering she is a girl.
Annie vows she will never leave the Realm, where dreams are chased, shattered lives can mend, and secrets are stowed like keepsakes in an old desk drawer. But when her past catches up with her, can she return to the Realm? More importantly, will she have a choice?
*a copy was provided by the author for review purposes*
Secrets of the Realm was such a pleasant surprise for me. When I was first asked to review this book, I was a little hesitant and I'll have to admit that my hesitation came from the cover. You know the whole "don't judge a book by its cover" rule? This is one of those instances where you definitely shouldn't. After reading the promising premise and an excerpt from goodreads, I was hooked and knew I had to accept the request.
I have really begun to enjoy reading historical fiction and Secrets of the Realm was no exception for me. The story follows Annie Moore who has been under her Aunt Mary's care since her family's death eight years ago and is working as a maid and companion for a girl named Abigail Spencer. But after her uncle dies in a tragic accident, Aunt Mary blames Annie and she is forced to flee with the help of her cousin Erik. They come up with the idea to make Annie appear to be a boy and she travels to London to become the cabin boy for Captain Hawke on a merchant ship called the Realm. While on board, Annie must keep her secret--if anyone found out she's a girl, her life on the Realm would be short-lived.
The world-building is so great. I really felt like I was in a past London and aboard the Realm myself. I thoroughly enjoyed each of the characters that Annie met on her adventurous journey. Annie was a strong and fierce protagonist who knew what she wanted. She always tried to do what was best for those around her while also following her own dreams. I also enjoyed the interaction between Annie and her shipmates. She could definitely hold her own against them and earned her place on the ship. But while there is adventure on the high seas, there is also heartbreak. Working on a ship isn't the easiest job, especially during storms when a lot of bad things have the potential for happening. There is also the threat of pirates, making their voyage much more dangerous, and with the infamous captain of the Realm, a run-in with the pirates seems inevitable.
If you're looking for a short, easy read with adventure, travel and a strong main character I suggest picking up Secrets of the Realm. I personally would have loved to read more about Annie and her shipmates; the book felt entirely too short. If Bev Stout decided to write more about Annie Moore's adventures, I wouldn't hesitate to read it. Such a lovely debut. I will definitely be on the lookout for more of her books in the future!
About Bev Stout
Bev Stout's love of the sea began while growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and continues today with visits and vacations to Cambria on the California coast.
While she has been an avid reader since early childhood, she didn't start writing seriously until later in life.
Bev Stout lives in Arizona with her husband, a thankful rescue dog, and an insane but lovable cat.