From the Publisher
The Compulsive Reader
"The Plague is a unique and engrossing read with admirable characters and possess a good, even pace that will even entice the reluctant reader. This is one to stick on the wish list."
Publishers Weekly web exclusive review, October 21, 2009
“This dark piece of historical fiction…is gritty and realistic…A harrowing and grim historical fantasy.”
Dahme's story is engaging and absorbing. It offers romance and sword fights, as well as a forgotten world without mass publications or photography, where most people wouldn't know what the real princess looked like. Dahme's strengths are in the moods she creates. Everything feels dark, wet and scary. She conveys the panic of being chased by terrible thingsBlack Prince and black plagueone is helpless to stop.
The New York Times
This dark piece of historical fiction, set during the Black Death, is gritty and realistic in its portrayal of the pandemic, even as Dahme (Creepers) introduces supernatural elements to the story. Orphaned Nell, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Princess Joan, daughter of England's King Edward III, is enlisted by the king to be his daughter's body-double. When the princess dies from the plague that is ravaging Europe, Nell is unwillingly made party to a plot-masterminded by Joan's brother, the Black Prince-to marry the Spanish Prince Pedro in place of the late princess. With the help of some accomplices, Nell and her younger brother, George, flee, finding the deceased and dying at every turn. Throughout, Dahme makes the plague's emotional toll evident ("we watched cart after cart empty their contents into the pits. I couldn't call them people, the things in the carts, or I would have to cry out in despair.... There was nothing to define these forms as men, women, or child"). A harrowing and grim historical fantasy. Ages 14-up.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—On the day Nell's parents are taken away by the gravediggers, her destiny changes because she bears an uncanny resemblance to Princess Joan, daughter of King Edward III. Worried that his military campaigns, as well as the burgeoning plague, could put his daughter in danger, the king decides that 15-year-old Nell should serve as his daughter's body double. As Nell and her brother George are traveling to Spain with the princess for her marriage, Joan's brother, known as the Black Prince, carries out a treasonous plan that leaves the princess dead in France and Nell forced to take her place in a phony marriage to the Prince of Castile. Realizing his treachery, Nell, George, and Henry, a soldier, try to escape the Black Prince. As they try to make their way through Bordeaux, they are joined by one cast of characters after another, and eventually find themselves in the clutches of the Black Prince once again. The three are taken back to England to be tried for treason, and they pray that King Edward will believe their story. The author's writing style is appealing, but the novel is largely plot driven and episodic with little character development. Additionally, the suggestion that the Black Prince has supernatural control over the plague-infested rats introduces a jarring element of fantasy in what is otherwise strictly historical fiction. The open-ended resolution leaves room for further adventures of Nell, George, and Henry, but readers will want stronger characters with whom they can develop a connection.—Cheri Dobbs, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI
An orphan becomes an innocent pawn in a dangerous political plot that carries her from London to Bordeaux while the Black Death cuts a swath through 14th-century Europe. Fifteen-year-old Nell escapes a life of poverty when her amazing likeness to Princess Joan earns her the job of stand-in for the princess. En route to her marriage to Prince Pedro of Castile, the princess succumbs to the plague. Her wily brother Edward, the Black Prince, devises a cunning plan to have Nell masquerade as the princess so the marriage can still take place. Nell, her brother George and a young soldier escape into countryside ravaged by plague, where they are relentlessly pursued by the Black Prince and his army of charmed rats. From start to finish, Nell's lively first-person narrative conveys a palpable atmosphere of deception and terror, propelling readers from one hair-raising event to the next. Despite the contrived ending that finds Nell a prisoner in the Tower of London, Dahme successfully blurs fact and fiction to capture the pervasive horror that infected life during the plague. (Historical fantasy. 12-15)