The Fire Star (# 1)

Series: Maven and Reeve Mysteries
Publication Date: 1 Sep. 2020
Format: Paperback / softback

ISBN 9781760897079

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    A maid with a plan.
    A squire with a secret.
    A missing jewel.
    A kingdom in turmoil.

    Maven and Reeve have three days to solve the mystery of the Fire Star. If they don't, they'll lose everything.

    This could be a complete disaster ... or the beginning of a friendship.

    Information

    Book Type: Junior High
    Age Group: 11 years +
    Traffic Lights: Green/Amber
    Class Novel: Yes
    Good Reads Rating: 5/5
    Literary Rating: 4.5/5

    Review

    Reeve has always dreamed of being a knight. There's just one problem: he faints at the sight of blood. He's been a page two years longer than most, so when he's given the chance to serve as squire to Sir Garrick Sharp, the Lord Protector of Rennart Castle, he's determined to prove his worth. And Sir Garrick needs a good squire: in the midst of his preparations for marriage to the Lady Cassandra, niece of Airl Buckthorn, his squire Neal has gone missing.


    Meanwhile, Lady Cassandra is doing everything she can to make sure the marriage doesn't go ahead. Airl Buckthorn has arranged the marriage as a way of getting his hands on Cassandra's family heirloom, a priceless gem called the Fire Star, but Cassandra has no intention of being locked into a loveless marriage: she intends to steal the Fire Star and escape across the seas. Her maid, Maven, talented in subterfuge and once part of a noble house, arranges for the gem to be stolen. But everything goes awry when the thief goes missing.


    Maven and Reeve are forced to team up to find the Fire Star: Reeve because he'll be relieved of his duties and disowned if the gem isn't found, and Maven because the Fire Star is the only thing that can save Lady Cassandra from confinement in a nunnery.


    Maven reveals to Reeve that she is part of a secret order of women -- the Beech Circle -- who horde knowledge and defend one another in a male-dominated world. They quickly find the body of the thief Maven tasked with stealing the star, but the gem is nowhere to be found. Briefly distracted by an effort to save the honour of Lady Anice, daughter of Airl Buckthorn, they discover that the reason that the squire Neal is missing is because he's a spy for the corrupt King, reporting back to his father on Airl Buckthorn and Sir Garrick's plans for a coup.


    They realise that Maven's thief had hidden the Fire Star, and the marriage goes ahead as planned; Reeve keeps his position, having proved himself indispensable to Sir Garrick, and Cassandra and Maven are saved from a life in the nunnery. But the King needs to be deposed, and dissent is in the air"¦


    A fun, thrilling adventure with an interesting mystery at its core. Nuanced, thought-provoking social commentary on classism and sexism drives many of the characters: Cassandra is unable to live her own life outside of a favourable match; Maven has been indentured to Lady Cassandra to pay off her father's crippling gambling debts; as a fourth son, Reeve risks being disowned by his father and sent to die at sea if he can't prove himself as a knight. The political scene is set for an equally thrilling sequel, and we can't wait to see what's next in store for Maven and Reeve!

    Themes

    medieval history, political intrigue, sexism, classism, mystery, secret societies, marriage, feudalism, knights

    Content Notes

    1. Non-graphic depiction of a dead body (p. 117). Lorimer attacks Maven, attempting to strangle her (p. 277-281). 2. Lady Anice meets Brantley in a garden, and in an effort to force her to marry him he assaults her. Maven walks in on them; Lady Anice is crying and Brantley is refusing to let go of her. The extent of the assault is not addressed as they pretend it didn't happen (p. 205). 3. Witchcraft is mentioned, but there is no actual magic; it is treated as the product of superstition and small-minded misogyny.

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