The Queen’s Fool by Ally Sherrick

Written by Ally Sherrick, Cover by Georgie McAusland, Publishing February 2021 by Chicken House Books

Cat and Meg, sisters, live in a Convent as both their parents have died. They spend their days tending the garden and living peacefully with the sisters. Cat, from the very beginning, is clearly different from her sister, with her acute hearing, inability to understand all words fully and her innocent view of the world. Protected by the sisters, Cat happily sings and plays her bird flute, mimicking the sounds of the birds flitting around the garden.

When Meg is abruptly taken to London by a terrifying man, Cat, in her innocence, decides to follow them to be with Meg. Considered a fool, she is allowed to travel with some travelling players. There she meets Jack-Bon, a young boy willing to help her. London, in Tudor times, was a dangerous place- plots to overthrow King Henry VIII, dangerous men and unkindness ruled and a young girl and boy becoming embroiled are left to their own devices to try and save the King and Queen.

Cat, in today’s terms, would have had learning difficulties and her view of the world was quite simple. She is treated wrongly throughout the entire story but her courage and lack of understanding in many situations has kept her protected, “My heart cramps as I think of how others treat Cat- calling her names and tormenting her, or keeping her shut away to perform at their command. And all because she’s different to them, and sees the world in a different way”.

The story is told as a dual narrative between Cat, with her simpler and very literal view of the events and Jacques, with his keen sense of understanding. The pair quickly become friends and throughout the story, their friendship will warm your heart. There are secrets kept and plots to unfold but Cat and Jack-Bon will be just the pair to figure it out, “She is Cat Sparrow- a brave girl who sees the truth and is not afraid to speak it to anyone-even the greatest lords and ladies in the land”.

Historically, this time period fascinates many readers above others for the cruelty with which Henry VIII ruled, the number of plots to overthrow thrones and the way with which lower classes were treated. It all seems very adventurous, though I would not have wanted to be part of it all. Ally Sherrick has clearly done her homework with ensuring this is accurate and representative of the time period.

Adventurous, thrilling and historical- a perfect read for 9+!

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