Publisher's Note:  

A remarkable and utterly inventive novel bursting with intrigue and romance, from Sharon Cameron, acclaimed author of THE DARK UNWINDING, which USA TODAY called "spellbindingly imaginative."

Centuries after a shifting of the Earth's poles, the Sunken City that was once Paris is in the grips of a revolution. All who oppose the new regime are put to the blade, except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy's arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

Daring intrigue, delicious romance, and spine-tingling suspense fill the pages of this extraordinary tale from award-winning author Sharon Cameron.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scholastic


by Sharon Cameron

Review Date:

Recommended Age:

Overall Rating:

Profanity / Language Rating:

Violence / Gore Rating:

Sex / Nudity Rating:

Overall Review:  

Young adult novelist Sharon Cameron's debut work, The Dark Unwinding series, proved she was one to watch out for in the YA sphere. Her latest work Rook, further endorses her as an author that is more than a one trick pony. Rook, has a range of subject matter that could place it in any number of categories--action and adventure, romance, science fiction, dystopian, and historical fiction. Wait, what? Dystopian and historical fiction, an oxymoron, right? Wrong. Somehow Cameron makes the overuse of dystopian fan fare seem fresh and new by adding a creative twist that may make some readers balk at the idea, NO TECH! A futuristic world with no technology? Yes, that's right, and that's what makes this book intensely inventive:  a futuristic world where electronics are not only obsolete because of a shift in the polar vortex, but also banned by government all together. Where does that leave the human race? Back to the past--think eighteenth century, namely the French revolution, since the novel takes place in Paris.

Cameron admits that this book pays homage to Baroness Emma Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel. There are similarities, but she admonishes this is not a retelling. Although the plots may parallel one another, the reader will find the reasoning for that about halfway through the novel.

Variety being the spice of life, Cameron narrates through third person, with various characters to parlay with. Protagonist Sophia Bellamy is more than just a pretty face, and René Hasard would have the reader believe that a pretty face is all he is. Though the musketeer-like action is quite exciting, the sparring of words between these two are probably the most fun and intriguing part of the narrative.

The book is lengthy, but I believe readers will appreciate that it is not cut up into installments, and they can enjoy a completed novel that progresses well and keeps their attention throughout, a formidable undertaking on the author's part.

Are we fated to repeat the past, or do our decisions determine our destiny and can those choices finagle chance? Luck may be a lady, but she would be nothing without her male cohorts to contend with, and so it is with the Rook.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  1 religious exclamation.

Violence/Gore:  Somewhat descriptive scene informing reader that many characters are executed by guillotine; implied violence; mention of explosion, no casualties; brief somewhat descriptive scene character's hand is severed, mention of blood; character threatens to injure character and torture prisoners; character has brief thoughts involving mischievous violence; brief minor physical altercation between characters; secondhand report of violent death (4x); brief scene character is stabbed to death, another character is injured by stabbing, falls from height, mention of blood; implication that characters were wounded, blood mentioned; character threatens character using a sword, character throws object at character's head; secondhand report that character was tortured to extract information, cutting and burning; implication that character received injury from violence (2x), mention of blood and screams; brief non-descriptive character's throat is cut; character slaps another character; character extracts blood from characters; character remembers being smacked by a sibling; secondhand report of a fight to the death, character kicks at dead body; extended scene (about 1 page) physical altercation resulting in accidental death; character briefly incapacitates two characters; brief mention of torture and execution; extended scene (about 1 ½ pages) characters practice sword playing; character yanks another character's arm; character punches another character; mention of character's injuries which resulted from a violent altercation; character threatens another character; character threatens to cut another character's throat; implication that character was punched repeatedly, mention of blood; brief non-descriptive characters duel; character is whacked with a sword; character is threatened with a sword; characters threaten to kill one another; character implies they stole something by using violence; few (about 5) mentions of mass rioting involving violence; character threatens to kill a family; character threatens to kill another character; character runs people down with carriage; extended scene (about 2 pages) characters fight each other with swords, intent to kill; characters playfully poke another character with a sword; character tackles and threatens to kill another character; characters physically resist arrest; character pricks finger to extract his/her blood; scene implies a fight took place; death by poison; destruction of property by explosion, implication of death (later confirmed), mild injuries; non-descriptive scene character's throat is slit; character knocks another character over.

Sex/Nudity:  Several (10+) incidents involving the kissing of head, cheeks, and/or hands (few are romantic in nature); implication that male character had to partially remove female character's clothes to attend to an injury; male and female characters flirt; female character considers what it would be like to kiss male character; characters joke, somewhat sexual in nature; hold hands (about 2x); male character touches female character's face and neck in a flirtatious manner; characters put on a show of flirting and snuggling with one another (somewhat comical); embrace (about 2x); extended scene (about 2 ½ pages) characters are romantic, involves kissing, touching, and caressing; brief kiss (about 2x); male characters change clothes (non-descriptive); female character bathes (non-descriptive); male character strokes female's hair; extended scene (about 1 page) characters are romantic and kiss.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Murder/death, execution, thieving, forgery, radical ideology, corrupt government, revolution, financial debt.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

A few mentions of characters being drunk; wine is served at party a few times; homemade whiskey used to dull pain and clean injury; character uses a sleep-inducing drug on another character (3x); the drinking of wine is mentioned a few times.

Reviewed By MaryLou
No image available