Sunday, May 22, 2011

YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy: The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night: a comedy of mistaken identities, love circles, and jovial fools. I won't give you the full details of the play; suffice it to say that it ends happily. But what happens after the conclusion to Shakespeare's drama, when the fun and games are replaced by the less amusing actualities of life? Celia Rees' The Fool's Girl seeks to be a continuation of the story, told from the perspective of the next generation of characters as they search through England for Illyria's lost relic following the betrayal and sacking of their country. Centering around Violetta, the daughter of Viola from Shakespeare's original play, this continuation intersects with the political intrigues of the Elizabethan court, the conflicts between Catholics and Protestants, some of Shakespeare's own characters, and even Will Shakespeare himself.

While I found The Fool's Girl to be less completely engrossing as Rees' other novels (notably Witch Child and Pirates), Rees remains an excellent storyteller and maintains a perfect balance between the historical fiction and fantasy elements of the novel. Her twist on Twelfth Night is unique and well-developed, combining adventure, romance, historicity, and fantasy into a wonderfully imagined tale. It's not as exciting as some of Rees' other books (and the final show-down between good and evil was a bit anticlimactic), but she makes up for this with the intricacies of the story. Conclusion: This is my favorite of Rees' novels because of the story, but not my favorite for OMG-can't put it down-what comes next?!?! as her others have been.

Note: If you haven't read Twelfth Night, you still won't have a problem understanding the plot of The Fool's Girl, though I would recommend having read at least a synopsis because you'll have a better grasp of characters and prior events.

I won my copy of The Fool's Girl from Celia Rees' Facebook page. It was published by Bloomsbury in July 2010.


  1. What an intriguing story-line! I love Shakespeare so know I want to read this one.

  2. oooh, i have this one!! i need to bump it up to the top of the to read list!