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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

All her life, Moss has lived in the Tower of London with her father, who serves as the executioner for King Henry VIII. Prisoners condemned to death must face Pa and his axe and Moss catches their severed heads. Her father insists he has no choice: if he leaves the Tower, he will be killed. But Moss can't bear to be the executioner's daughter any longer. When she finally finds a way out of the Tower, she discovers the river holds more dangers than she imagined including the Riverwitch's curse. The Riverwitch once helped Moss's family in exchange for a terrible bargain; now she expects Moss to pay the debt.…

The Executioner’s Daughter

by Jane Hardstaff

Overall Book Review:

“A child born of the river will return to the river…”

The Executioner’s Daughter by Jane Hardstaff is a dark, fantastical novel about growing up and the struggle to be your own person.  Set in Tudor England at the height of the reign of Henry VIII’s power, Hardstaff presents a very different kind of life than is usually portrayed during this period; one of danger and superstition instead of the usual pageantry.  Our young heroine, Moss, is bright and headstrong, but is also a sheltered young woman who has spent the majority of her life in the Tower of London, assisting her father who is the king’s executioner.  Moss despises her life there and the role she must assist her father in performing.  Upon the heels of finding a secret tunnel and learning a terrible family secret, Moss escapes her life in the Tower.  Though her journey filled with new hardships and a confrontation with a dark destiny, Moss learns the meaning of love, loss and friendship.

The Executioner’s Daughter is a thrilling story that lovers of historical fiction, and this rich time period, will devour.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Carolrhoda Books

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  None

Violence/Gore: **Death and general violence in this time period was much more immediate than experienced today.  Though on a whole the content of The Executioner’s Daughter leans towards the mild to graphic, the author’s presentation is common place and mostly historically accurate.**  Many references to/depictions of executions (beheadings, burnings, etc.); man pulls girl; girl wishes for man to fight; man suspected of murder; woman dies in labor; many instances of people being hit, slapped and kicked by others; a few instances of a girl being tripped or shoved; boy holds girls head under water; depiction of severed heads on pikes; many references to people, mainly children, drowning; story of woman crushed by a mill wheel; character slips; character hits head; character falls in river; character nearly drowns several times; boy throws girl to the ground; reference to a miscarriage; reference to man pulling teeth (in a “medical” sense); references to killing rats; death is referenced as a penalty; girl kicks man; references to driving animals with whips or switches; girl chases a severed head; man grips girl’s arms tightly; man references losing limbs; girl recalls woman dying in childbirth; part of a bridge collapses; boat nearly capsized; character swept away; reference to illness caused deaths; references to child snatcher; character falls; character references the dangers of the city; man threatens to break boy’s hands; character slips on ice; character nearly freezes to death; man threatens to beat boy; animal suffers stomach issues; character nearly thrown off sleigh; character slays a dragon, in performance; girl wishes harm to her uncle; girl chased by ghoul; girl nearly thrown into an icy river; ghoul collects children; boy threatens to stab man; character falls; reference to “The Two Princes of the Tower”; reference to a man surviving execution; boy trussed in a sack; boy kicked; boy fights captors; many verbal threats; man puts boys hand in fire; girl punches man; girl pricks finger; children locked up; man chains children to bridge to drown; boy nearly drowns; ghoul takes girl.

Sex/Nudity:  Boy and girl hold hands.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death, superstition, relationships, supernatural, growing-up, capital punishment.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

References to alcohol.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I always say that I love to read and that books are my passion, but as I have grown a little older, I have come to realize that isn’t entirely true. I do love reading, but my true passion is stories. For as long as I can remember I have been completely enthralled with a good story, no matter the medium: books, theater, movies/TV shows–even a few video games (yes, I am a nerd).