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Bri Meets Books

Children's and YA literature reviews.

This review’s long overdue!

Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times is the first in a new historical fiction series for young adults. The series opens with an introduction to Nathan Fox, an enterprising young actor in an acting company. Highly skilled in acrobatics, in horseback riding, and other skills for the stage, Nathan’s recruited by Sir Francis Walsingham, England’s Spymaster General.

The novel quickly becomes familiar with Shakespeare fans, as it takes on Othello ‘s characters and elements. I’ll admit I’ve never read Othello in its entirety, which makes the book all the more intriguing for me.

William Shakespeare is even a character in the book, and before Nathan’s journey, asks him for a future recount of all their exploits. However, Shakespeare references aside, author L. Brittney creates an intriguing world all her own, and with each chapter comes a new learning experience.

Before Nathan joins Walsingham, he must train under three masters in the skills of defense, of code-breaking, and of weaponry. As Nathan learns about ciphers, so does the reader. Brittney even includes a key, so children interested in spies and espionage can make their own secret messages.

The novel’s most redeeming element is the author always keeps its intended audience in mind. Full with a broad range of historical facts and allusions, the book straddles a delicate balance between historical fiction and spy thriller. Brittney never talks down to the reader, and as Nathan absorbs these various skills and facts, the reader is along for the ride as well. This aspect makes it an engaging and fun companion for a middle-school class aiming to tackle any Shakespeare play.

Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times by Lynne Brittney arrives in the US spring 2008. Shortlisted for the 2007 Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize, a website accompanies the novel, and readers can take the adventure beyond the pages.

Copy for review graciously provided by the author.

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