Reviews for Prisoners in the Palace : How Victoria Became Queen With the Help of her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel

Booklist Reviews 2010 September #1
"Liza is expected to make her debut in 1830s London, but when her parents die suddenly, she is left penniless and must instead enter service. Through fortuitous connections, she gets a position as a lady's maid to 17-year-old Princess Victoria, who lives with her mother in the neglected and tension-filled Kensington Palace. Liza begrudgingly adjusts to this new role and slowly comes to care for the temperamental, haughty, and pitiable princess even while she rejects lewd advances from Sir John, the household's powerful secretary. Ultimately, Liza befriends a young boy and a newspaperman (who soon becomes a love interest) in order to confront the public slander surrounding the princess. This novel is full of historical detail, vivid settings, and richly drawn characters, and themes of friendship and romance give the story teen appeal; Liza is a brave yet conflicted young adult with whom readers will identify. The author takes liberties with some historical facts (clarified in an afterword) to create a tale of espionage, romance, grief, and hope." Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
Fascinating research about the press, social classes, and royal politics in the years before Victoria took the throne undergirds this tale about the isolated princess and a fictional maid, Liza, who helps her achieve independence. There's some awkwardness to the otherwise engaging narrative; for example, Victoria's passivity makes her annoyingly self-centered and Liza's accomplishments become melodramatically exaggerated. An author's note is appended. Reading list. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 September #2
Regency romance blends enjoyably with historical fiction, with a plucky heroine for each mode. Newly orphaned Liza is left penniless on the verge of her London Season and is forced to accept the vastly-beneath-her position of maid to the Princess Victoria. There, Liza is embroiled in the real-life historical intrigue that surrounded the princess. Sir John Conroy and Victoria's mother schemed to keep Victoria dependent, hoping for power during Victoria's coming reign. In reality, the nearly friendless Victoria overcame their machinations alone. Here she survives with the help of Liza, Liza's newspaperman beau and a Dickensian street child. As Victoria approaches her 18th birthday and Conroy ramps up his desperate, Machiavellian plots, Liza becomes less self-absorbed and judgmental, willing to fight for Victoria. Suitor Will becomes accordingly more affectionate. Diary entries and letters from Liza and Victoria pepper the narrative (Victoria's are genuine and feel prissy beside the contemporary prose). The romance between characters with relatively modern sensibilities makes for a pleasurable portal into an historical event which is practically a Gothic novel even without the addition of fiction. (Historical fiction. 12-14) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 October #1

With the tragic death of her parents, Liza Hastings's life is upended in an instant. Gone is her money, her security, her hopes of coming out this season, and her station in life as a lady. Liza is a young woman left alone in 19th-century London, a precarious position at best. With no other options before her, Liza lands a position as a maid--at Kensington Palace--to none other than Princess Victoria, the future queen of England. In this debut, MacColl offers a whip-smart, spunky protagonist and a worthy heroine to root for--Liza's prospects may have plummeted, but her spirits never do. And though Princess Victoria can be spoiled and distressingly unaware of how her whims can make or break someone's livelihood, MacColl weaves enough goodness into Victoria that she never becomes a caricature. Court intrigue abounds as Victoria's advisers scheme to usurp her power upon the king's death, and Liza fights for Victoria's rights as much as for her own station. Enter Will Fulton as a dashing romantic interest for Liza, and this delightful story is complete. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 December

Gr 7 Up--Through the eyes of her maid, readers get to know Princess Victoria during the year before she becomes queen. Down on her luck when the deaths of her parents leave her penniless and debt ridden, Liza finds employment at Kensington Palace. She quickly learns that Victoria is a virtual prisoner of her scheming mother and her mother's lover, who seek to control the future queen through a regency. Liza initially thinks only of ways to gain favor and influence, and, ultimately, money, from Victoria, but she gradually comes to feel compassion for the lonely and ill-treated 17-year-old. The emotional growth of both young women is the heart of the story, and it unfolds naturally because of a riveting plot full of conspiracy, sexual abuse of servants, treachery, and a great love story. There are references to prostitution, abortion, apparent suicide, and murder, but they are not gratuitous. Liza's riches-to-rags-to-almost-riches story and her development into a young woman of high moral purpose, and Victoria's growth from a docile teen into a queen who would define an era, make this a great read.--Corinne Henning-Sachs, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook, ME

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