1485. Richard III is King of England. Henry Tudor’s invasion looms.
Jack Broom thinks that war and politics have nothing to do with him. He is a simple apothecary’s boy dreaming of becoming a surgeon – until soldiers mistake him for a boy of noble birth.
Narrowly avoiding being dragged to the Tower of London, Jack sets out on a perilous mission to find out who he truly is. With the help of his new friend Alice, he uncovers conspiracies, treason, and the deadly lengths people will go to for power.
As someone who loves learning about the Plantagenets and Tudors, I jumped at the chance to read The Secret in the Tower. I’m fascinated by Richard III and Henry Tudor (Henry VII) so I was so pleased to see someone had written about this period rather than the popular Henry VIII, who, in my opinion, is far less interesting than his ancestors!
The Secret in the Tower is a fictionalised account of the princes Edward and Richard, whose fate is a mystery and not known. Beattie’s story blends together fact and fiction to tell an adventure story of what could’ve happened.
As a historical adventure story, The Secret in the Tower is full of mild peril and twists and turns, perfect for its intended middle grade audience. I enjoyed a host of characters whose intentions were not always clear, keeping the momentum and engagement of the story throughout. The main character, Jack Broom, is interesting although maybe lacks agency.
There were minor historical inaccuracies within the book that threw me out of the story. The people closest to me know me to be a purist (I have a strong dislike of film adaptations of books that are not true to the book) but I can’t seem to let it go that Richard and Edward are portrayed as twins. They were not twins, but brothers, and I feel that the story could’ve been rounded off differently without this historical inaccuracy and it perhaps it could’ve stayed closer to the facts where they were available.
I feel that the book would hugely benefit from a family tree depicting the relationships between the kings and princes to give it clarity in addition to the brief summary of the real story (or at least what we do know) which is provided by the author at the end of the story.
Overall, I did enjoy the book. There was enough to keep me engaged and I kept coming back to it. I’m very aware I am not the book’s intended audience and I’ll freely admit that I struggled to suspend reality at some points where the author had deviated from historical fact given that we do not know what actually happened to the princes in the tower. I would absolutely recommend it for getting young, budding historians engaged with history.
Thanks to NetGalley and Sweet Cherry Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Wishing you a wonderfully bookish week,