Title: The Miraculous Sweetmakers – The Frost Fair
Written by: Natasha Hastings
Cover illustrated by: Alex T Smith
Published by: Harper Collins Children’s Books
An ingenious spooky story, full of intrigue and suspense. The book encompasses themes of family, friendship, loss, and overcoming grief.
Thirteen year old Thomasina feels responsible for the death of her twin brother Arthur. So when a mysterious, well-dressed man turns up in the family sweetshop claiming he is a conjurer and can bring Arthur back from the dead, she jumps at the chance. However, events spiral out of control putting not only her life at risk but also the lives of her friends and family.
I loved that the book was set in London 1683 when the River Thames froze over. Thomasina helps her father set up a sweet stall on the frozen river Thames. She makes friends with Anna who dreams of opening her own apothecary, which is a daring move in the 17th century for a young girl, despite the fact many young children would be expected to work at their age. I like the way Natasha Hastings’ characters challenge the male/female stereotypes that were prominent during this time. This was also evident in the way Natasha expertly tackled the subplot of her mother’s grief and neighbours wanting to lock her up as it was seen as female mental illness. I found it realistic for the times.
On the whole the plot was well researched and full of twists and turns. I would recommend this book for all middle grade readers who love history with a hint of magic.
I have previously reviewed this book on NetGalley and Goodreads.