Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: The King's Shadow by Elizabeth Alder

Title: The King's Shadow
Author: Elizabeth Alder
Genre: YA / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Laurel Leaf Books
Published: 1997
Pages: 259

Rating - 8 out of 10

 The King's Shadow is the medieval story of Evyn, a mute boy who serves Earl Harold of Wessex as his scribe and personal companion. As his father-son like closeness with the Earl grows, Evyn finds himself caught up in the events leading up to a horrific Battle of Hastings, where he and everything he knows will be forever changed.
This is a powerful, well written story, and was always one of my favorites of childhood. The writing style is as poetically eloquent as the bard's songs that Evyn loves so much, and the lovable (or hateful) characters have stayed fresh in my mind, even though it must be ten years or so since I last read it. Alder's writing holds a sort of intelligent beauty that seems to suit this book perfectly. I think that that was one of the things that I so loved about this book as a child: the mature writing. Being raised in a very conservative family, I was endlessly frustrated by my limited supply of reading, being forbidden from reading "adult" books. The children's books available to me too often felt as if I was being talked-down to. Not so with "The King's Shadow."
This book is sad and happy all at once. I especially loved the character of Evyn's beloved mentor, Harold. He seemed the perfect father figure. The contrasting character of Harold's brother, the nemesis of this book, was very well done.
Highly recommended!