My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Barbara Mitchelhill is one of those authors I’ve suddenly become very aware of. I’ve heard great things about Run Rabbit Run so I was excited to pick up Road to London, her latest novel due out in April 2012. It’s a novel set in Elizabethan London and tells the story of how Thomas becomes embroiled in both the theatre and a set of circumstances that could be life or death for one very important individual.
Mitchelhill knows her history. She peppers the story with fact and detail that helps to flesh out an ever so slightly thin plot. I think I wanted more from Road To London at points, and I do genuinely think that Mitchelhill is more than capable of it. There are paragraphs where she makes London live; it’s in her awareness of the whole of the city, the stinking, filthy maelstrom that it was and it’s easy to imagine life inside this place. There’s one particular moment where Thomas and his companion look like they will be caught outside the city, and there’s a genuine sense of peril and fear to this episode.
Road To London is a pacey, accessible book and one which I would recommend for a young reader (I would suggest though that they’re confident readers). It’s a book that has a nice mixture of the gruesome (there’s some lovely moments with black teeth) and the historic. It’s a little bit of Shakespeare in Love and a little bit of Horrible Histories which is, I feel, a more than satisfying combination.