Beth Johnson is an actress with other tasks set before other than reciting her lines. She is a spy in the service of King Charles II. After her recruitment Beth goes to work to discover the reason why a strange vessel is lying in the river. No one knows anything about her and she is by all reports abandoned. Well almost. According to naval clerk John Turner, someone – or something – took his friend aboard the ship by force and he fears the friend is dead. There is one thing they know about the ship. She bears a Dutch name. Could it be the Dutch are up to something? After all they are Britain’s enemy. For king and country, Beth joins forces with two newfound colleagues to get to the bottom of the mystery. She’s going to uncover the facts…even if it kills her.
La! Treason started out good, but after Beth entered the scene everything took a downturn. She’s a flirt and she’s arrogant (even if none of the characters comments on this). She seems to have a pretty good opinion of herself even if she isn’t as good as she thinks. Then there is John. Gracious! I don’t know when I’ve read anything so sappy. It’s not the can’t-stop-blushing sappy – it’s the can’t-stop-retching sappy. Speaking of John, he’s terribly inept even if he likes to fancy himself a grand hero in his imagination. The mystery ship was intriguing enough but after awhile it grew tiresome. Many chapters into the book and we still don’t know anything new about it. Instead the old information is beat to death by repetition.
There is a rather morbid incident where a character has his throat cut and leaves a trail of blood for John to follow. Nassy! Then there is the language. I understand that if the book had been written in 17th century English young readers might have found it difficult to grasp but that’s not what bothered me – it was the post-18th century (that is not a typo. I really mean post-18th century) speech (e.g. “hang on”, “okay”). I doubt young readers will find this much of an annoyance but I do remember a time when juvenile historical fiction didn’t lack for color, speech-wise. Pick up a book set in the Civil War era by Patricia Beatty. She manages to throw in words that would have been used at the time while helping to expand children’s vocabularies (some might say not for the better!)
The story lacked substance and for that reason I did not like it. Do I recommend it? By all means! Children with an appreciation for history should be able to dive into this story with enthusiasm as the characters tell them about life in the aftermath of Oliver Cromwell’s rule.
DISCLAIMER: In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” we would like to note that we received an electronic copy of “Secrets & Spies: Treason” from NetGalley.com provided by the publishers, Capstone Young Readers, in exchange for our honest review.