“Heartseeker,” by Melinda Beatty, is a new adventure novel set in a world based on 17th century England.
Only Fallow (yes, that’s her name) is just a small and lonely farm girl, but she has a secret that could get her in a heap of trouble. She can see colorful lies all around people, and she can never tell them.
When the king gets word of this gift, Only is snatched away from the small village that she has called home all her life. The king wants to use her talent to sort out the liars in his court, but there is more to these lords and ladies that meets the eye. One even has some magic of their own.
In this book, the author replicates real-life racism in the king’s hostility towards the river folk, the Ordish. Including this in a fictional story can not only portray the author’s stance on discrimination, but can teach children that what you look like doesn’t matter.
The king hates these peaceful boat-dwellers simply because of where they came from, and their reputation isn’t getting better. Someone is framing them for crimes throughout the kingdom. Someone close to the king. Who is it?
This could be compared to the 1960’s Jim Crow laws, which pretty much allowed Caucasians to blame anything on African Americans and to hate them because of what they looked like while still being within the law.
In the story, the Ordish are also being used as slaves, much like what was happening in the 1700s and 1800s. The characters and their actions are very realistic, and you can relate to them in a “That’s what I would have done” way.
This novel is for kids 11 and up, because sometimes the language is a little bit difficult to comprehend. It also might be a bit long for younger kids, at around 330 pages.
Sometimes at the chapter heads, there will be a poem or song relevant to the story. It was a fun way of foreshadowing the next turn of events.
This is a fun adventure story, but there is some violence, and some religious themes. For example, Only’s religion is a modified version of Christianity, worshipping the “All Mother” instead of the father God.
“Heartseeker” is Melinda Beatty’s first novel, and judging by the cliffhanger, we can expect another book in the “Heartseeker” series. This would be a good book for a read-aloud, because the fun and twisting plot will keep kids interested.