Friday, May 14, 2010

Book Review: Alchemy and Meggy Swann by Karen Cushman

Alchemy and Meggy Swann by Karen Cushman
Publisher: Clarion books
Publication date: April 26, 2010
ISBN: 9780547231846
Source: e-copy of ARC from NetGalley

Alchemy and Meggy Swann

Meggy Swann is setting off for the first time from her small village to London.  Her father, who she's never met, called for her to come assist him.  But, when she arrives, she finds things much different than she expected.  Her father, a destitute alchemist, doesn't expect to find her a crippled girl and so completely ignores her.  There isn't enough money for food every day.  Even her one friend, Louise the goose, must leave her.  But, though people still curse her and make fun of her for how she walks, there are those who don't seem to mind.  She might even make a real friend in Roger, an actor.  

Things I Liked:
I have fallen in love with everything Karen Cushman writes.  Her middle ages heroines are always strong and full of life and spirit.  Meggy is a sharp-tongued, short-tempered delight.  I felt every pain she did, from those who taunt her and every joy from those who didn't.  It was an interesting and unique look at how disabled persons were perceived back then.  Not only does she write great characters, but the time period comes to life.  I felt like I was there in 1500s London, hearing, smelling, and seeing everything.  A completely enjoyable romp back in time that doesn't deal with royalty, for a change.  Some of my favorite quotes:

"In truth, I think you as friendly as a bag of weasels but too small to be dangerous."
Meggy banged a stick against the floor again.  "Be not daft, servant boy," she said.  "I be most dangerous, a fearsome cripple who delights in affrighting people." p19 of ARC
"You, Mistress Margret, are passing skilled at this matter of insults, you milk-livered minnow."
"I grew up in an alehouse, you wart-necked mammering clap dish." p55
Things I Didn't Like:
It might be a bit difficult for younger kids to get into the language of this one.  Those who are well-versed in historical fiction from this time would probably be fine, but maybe not for someone who hasn't read a lot.

Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman

The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cuhsman
Sent by Margaret Peterson Haddix

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: *****

I will now be spewing "ye toads and vipers" for the next week. Nothing like a hearty Elizabethan-era cuss word to liven things up.

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. Glad to find Karen Cushman. Thanks for the review,

  2. Cami, she's definitely one not to miss!

  3. Julie, I look forward to reading your reviews of some Cushman :)

  4. I love her books too. This one sounds great!


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