Search of the Moon King's Daughter

Search of the Moon King's Daughter

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by Linda Holeman

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Included in one of the 2004 YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults lists

Nominated for the White Pine Reading Program of the Durham District School Board

Gentle Emmaline loves nothing more than books and flowers and her little brother Tommy. Sadly, her idyllic country life in Victorian England comes to an abrupt end when her father dies of


Included in one of the 2004 YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults lists

Nominated for the White Pine Reading Program of the Durham District School Board

Gentle Emmaline loves nothing more than books and flowers and her little brother Tommy. Sadly, her idyllic country life in Victorian England comes to an abrupt end when her father dies of cholera. The family is forced to move to a mill town, where Emmaline’s mother is dreadfully injured in a factory accident. To ease her pain she takes laudanum and is soon addicted, craving the drug so badly that she sells Tommy into servitude as a chimney sweep in London. Emmaline knows that a sweep’s life is short and awful. Small boys as young as five are forced to climb naked into dark chimneys, their bare feet prodded by nail-studded sticks to keep them working. If Tommy is to survive, it is up to Emmaline to find him.

Linda Holeman brings a bygone period to life in a book of serious historical fiction for young adults.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The narrative moves swiftly…and builds to a satisfying conclusion…. Fans of historical fiction will be hooked.”
School Library Journal [starred review]

“Holeman vividly portrays the many contrasts of 1830s Victorian life…and creates an engaging, well-developed protagonist who exemplifies the power of determination and love…. Diverse supporting characters, drama, suspense, and a hint of romance round things out. A compelling story…”

“This gripping novel draws a shockingly realistic portrait of…19th century England.”
The White Ravens 2003, A Selection of International Children’s and Youth Literature

“Significant research and vivid imagery provide readers with an accurate and poignant image of England during its industrial coming-of-age.”

“…virtue finally triumphs over vice in this richly plotted Dickensian saga…”
The Horn Book Guide

“Holeman’s…[novel] is absolutely outstanding…. While the strong storyline and vivid characterizations are sufficiently compelling to provide this book with a ‘Highly Recommended’ rating, it is the period detail that Holeman seamlessly weaves into her plot that truly sets this book apart…. One of this year’s absolute ‘must’ purchases…”
CM Magazine

“…a powerful recreation of life in 1830s England…. Holeman packs a great deal of fascinating material into her moving portrait of the period.”
Quill & Quire

“…a welcome addition to the outstanding list of books [Linda Holeman] has written for young people… This novel is rich in historical detail… [T]een readers…will find Search of the Moon King’s Daughter immensely satisfying and engaging.”
Books In Canada

“This work does a good job of portraying the realities of life…in early nineteenth-century England…. In the classroom, this book could be used when discussing the social history of the nineteenth-century or the effects of the Industrial Revolution…”
Resource Links

“…[a] gripping historical novel…”
Toronto Star

“[Linda Holeman’s] exhaustive research and eye for detail help her to evoke the years 1830-36 with verisimilitude and to teach her readers – whether child or adult – a thing or two…. [This] is a book a young reader would be pleased to receive as a present. It is as entertaining as it is informative, possessing a great story…”
The Vancouver Sun

“This is great writing, and a consuming read.”
Brandon Sun

“This fine work of historical fiction navigates authentic emotional territory.”
Today’s Parent

“We see…the kind of wisdom with which great battles are fought and won, and admire the journey she embarks upon…. Search of the Moon King’s Daughter is ahead…by just a step or two.”
Star Phoenix

Children's Literature
Emmaline is happy in her quiet domestic life in 1830's Maidenfern, England. But when her father succumbs to cholera, Emmaline's idyllic existence is thoroughly shattered. Along with her mother and mute little brother, Tommy, Emmaline is forced to relocate to the Industrial town of Tibbing. There she is put to work as a seamstress, while her mother slowly succumbs to the enticements of alcohol and drugs. Eventually Emmaline's mother's deadly addiction to laudanum prompts her to sell Tommy to a rogue chimney sweep operation, which then carries the boy off to London. Emmaline is determined to brave the bustling city and rescue Tommy from the cruelty of the chimney sweeps. "Climbing boys," as they were known, seldom survived into adulthood. In London Emmaline is befriended by the servants of a large household. Though immersed in new issues and conflicts, she never loses sight of her ultimate goal: saving her younger brother. This is a finely wrought story, with genuine characters that tug on one's heartstrings. Linda Holeman has succeeded admirably in recreating the vitality and vagrancies of Charles Dickens' England. 2002, Tundra Books,
— Christopher Moning
This historical fiction provides a realistic look at the grim world of laborers in England during the early Industrial Age, as the decline of Emmaline Roke's family's fortunes is traced over a six-year period in 1860s England. Cat, Emmaline's mother, has just mangled her hand in a horrible factory accident. The story then backtracks six years to tell the journey of this family from their idyllic existence as shopkeepers in a village to the tragic circumstances of Cat's accident. After the accident, the family slips even further toward the poorhouse when Cat becomes addicted to painkillers and then sells Emmaline's brother, Tommy, a deaf-mute, into the worst of all jobs at this time, chimney sweep. Emmaline heads for London to rescue Tommy, and finds work on the lowest rung of household help, as laundry scrubber and scullery maid. Readers will gain a memorable glimpse into the lives of a variety of workers at this time and come away with a new appreciation of the precarious hold most of these laborers had on a tolerable life. Emmaline's persistence in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds ultimately pays off, and despite the bleak conditions of the time, her story ends with a hopeful new beginning. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2002, Tundra, 308p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Mary Melaugh
Fifteen-year-old Emmaline Roke enjoys life with her family in their small shop in the Victorian English village of Maidenfern. When her father suddenly dies from cholera, Emmaline, her mother Cat, and her deaf brother Tommy are forced to move to Tibbing, a mill town representative of industry spreading throughout England. Emmaline, skilled with a needle, works as a house servant for her father's wealthy sister while her mother toils away in the textile factory. A terrible accident mangles Cat's hand, and soon she is helplessly addicted to laudanum. To feed her addiction, she sells five-year-old Tommy into service as a chimney sweep. Determined to bring her brother home, Emmaline travels alone to London to search for him among the soot-blackened street waifs whose lives are choked off by lung disease. Her own family torn apart, Emmaline creates a new family among the servants of Thorn House where she finds domestic work by day and seeks Tommy in the dark hours of morning. Against that backdrop, Emmaline's story is one of hope and love in spite of obstacles. Holeman strips away any romanticism associated with the Industrial Revolution by juxtaposing the difficult lives of the working class struggling to survive in stark contrast to the opulent existence of those who found privilege in an economy built on human industry. Significant research and vivid imagery provide readers with an accurate and poignant image of England during its industrial coming-of-age. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Tundra, 320p,
— Michele Winship
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Emmaline, the daughter of a village shopkeeper, leads an idyllic existence in 1830s England. When her father dies of cholera, the family is forced to move to a factory town where her mother finds work in a mill. When Emmaline is 15, her mother is injured in an industrial accident and becomes addicted to laudanum; she sells her young, deaf son into service as a chimney sweep to support her habit. Emmaline goes to London to search for him and finds work as a scullery maid. When she is not working, she relentlessly searches for her brother. She also begins to form connections with her fellow servants in the house where she works and lives. Emmaline is a strong young woman who takes things into her own hands. The supporting characters are also well drawn and three-dimensional. The narrative moves swiftly, thanks to short chapters and several subplots and twists, and builds to a satisfying conclusion. Period details enhance the descriptions, especially that of sooty, Dickensian London. Fans of historical fiction will be hooked.-Kristen Oravec, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Strongsville, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A Dickensian novel reveals the horrors of 19th-century life in England. Emmaline’s father reads Ivanhoe and Sense and Sensibility to her, but her mother is an illiterate with a tendency to drink, and if Emmaline’s aunt is to be believed, a woman of loose morals. Emmaline’s father dies of cholera and her mother is forced to work in a mill. Emmaline’s sewing skills allow her a relatively cushy job with her wealthy aunt. Life is bad, but at least they are together. But when mother’s hand is mangled in an accident at the mill, her addiction to opium-laced pain medication drives her to sell Emmaline’s brother, Tommy, into servitude as a chimney sweep. Desperate to get Tommy back, Emmaline ventures to London, finds work, wins the admiration of her elderly employer by reading Wordsworth aloud to him, locates Tommy, and gains financial independence when her employer bequeaths to her two valuable antiquarian books. Clichés abound, including the kind employer’s evil son who impregnates the scullery maid and then cold-heartedly abandons her to a nasty workhouse fate. Yet readers will be drawn in by Emmaline’s determined quest for her little brother and the budding romance between Emmaline and young Thomas, whose commitment to books makes him a good match for Emmaline. The deus ex machina conclusion is no more far-fetched than a typical Dickens dénouement. (Fiction. 12-14)

Product Details

Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.24(w) x 7.68(h) x 0.66(d)
Age Range:
10 - 11 Years

Read an Excerpt

Emmaline’s life changed in the moment her needle finished the last golden loop of the embroidered apple on the cuff of a blue watered-silk gown. All she was thinking of was the oatcake, the sweet taste of it flooding her mouth.…


It was February 2 – Candlemas – although the day of festivity was like any other for Emmaline. She had promised Tommy she’d buy oatcakes on her way home from work, a small treat to mark the day of celebration. But long before finishing time, Fanny Shoesmith arrived with her message: “Emmaline! Emmaline, you’re to come quickly.”

Emmaline stood, the dress in her lap falling into a heap on the floor. The scrawny girl panted in the doorway of the sewing room, while a heavyset woman, her arms crossed over her broad chest, stood beside her.

“What is it, Fanny?” Emmaline asked, staring at the girl. “Is it our Tommy? Has something happened?”

“No. ’Tis Cat, Emmy. Your mother’s been hurt bad.” The words came out in gasps as Fanny tried to catch her breath. “I’ve been sent from the mill to fetch you. The overlooker wants your mother out and she can’t walk on her own and she’s calling for you. She won’t let anyone else near her.”

As Emmaline approached the door, the woman gripped Emmaline’s forearm. The movement made the nest of keys hanging from her thick waist jingle cheerily, the sound a sharp contrast to the scowl on her face.

“You get back to work,” she said, gesturing with her chin toward the pool of blue silk on the floor. “You’re not going anywhere. Not until your day’s work is done.”

Emmaline wrenched her arm from the woman’s grasp, sending the keys dancing. She grabbed her shawl from the hook beside the door. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Brill, but I’ve got to go to my mother. You heard. She’s been hurt.”

Mrs. Brill’s heavy eyelids lowered, and she gave a sniff. “How do I know this to be true?”

Fanny bobbed at the woman. Her tongue – gray and slightly furry – darted out to lick her dry lips. There was the beginning of a sore at the corner of her mouth. “Beggin’ your pardon, Missus, but it’s true. I seen it with me own eyes. Terrible, ’tis. Blood everywhere.” There was an unmistakable gleam of excitement in her eyes. “An’ her hand – oh, it’s crushed to near a pulp, so ’tis, as it were caught in the machine. I seen it with me own eyes,” she said again, the word “pulp” coming out louder than necessary. Fanny licked her lips a second time and pressed her own narrow hand to her throat.

As Emmaline brushed past Fanny, color flushed high on Mrs. Brill’s doughy cheeks. “Emmaline,” she called, striding after her. “You come back here. I haven’t given you permission to leave. Emmaline! I’ll tell your aunt!” But Emmaline was gone, running along the dim hall, away from the sewing room.

Mrs. Brill’s lips tightened. She looked down at Fanny, and then gave the girl a sudden thump on the side of the head with her knuckle.

“Ow,” Fanny whined, pulling her head away. “Weren’t my fault, Missus. I were only doing what I were told.”

“Be off with you,” Mrs. Brill said. “Go on back to the mill, you filthy urchin.”

“Yes, Missus,” Fanny answered, and turned and ran in the same direction as Emmaline. Something made her look back. Mrs. Brill stood in the doorway, watching her. “Pursy cow!” she said, making sure her voice was low enough that Mrs. Brill couldn’t hear.

And then Fanny ran on, away from the house, glad to be out in the fresh air. It had been raining earlier, but a weak sun now floated over the factory stacks. The February wind was cold, blowing through her patched dress. She hadn’t had time to grab her shawl when the overlooker had sent her to fetch Emmaline. She inhaled deeply, creating a frosty tingle in her nostrils, then blew a long steaming breath into the wintry air. For this unexpected moment life was good, away from the clattering din of the cotton mill for a brief time. She rubbed her head as she ran, partly to soothe the sharp stinging from Mrs. Brill’s knobbed knuckle, but also to will away the sound of Cat Roke’s quick, high, animal shrieks above the constant thrum of the spinning machines.

Poor Emmaline, Fanny thought. She liked Emmaline, for when she saw the older girl on the street outside the mill waiting for her mother, Emmaline always had time for her. Sometimes she told her wonderful stories from the books she read. No one had ever told Fanny a story before, and usually Fanny envied Emmaline, for not only could she read, she also had a home and family.

But now, for these few moments, and maybe the first time in her short life, Fanny was glad she lived in the mill dormitories, with only herself to fend for, and nothing but shadowy, confusing memories of family. Emmaline had a family, all right, but what a family: a mother who was more trouble than help and a scrawny little brother who couldn’t hear nor speak. And then there was the snobby aunt who allowed her own niece to be treated as little more than a drudge by that awful housekeeper, Mrs. Brill. Even though Emmaline, at fifteen, was two years older than Fanny, she had told Fanny that she was still paid as one of the lowest in the house, when by now she should be receiving wages as an assistant seamstress. And, she had confided to Fanny only the week before, she doubted that this would ever change.

Poor Emmaline, Fanny thought one more time, then slowed to a walk, allowing herself to be lost in the thought that there was someone with more cares than she had.


“Mother! Mother, what’s happened?” Emmaline gasped, rushing into the overlooker’s office, not even bothering to knock: something that might get her mother’s wages docked if the overlooker had a mind to punish her. She glanced at him, seeing anger on his thin sallow face. His oily hair brushed his collar, and he nervously fingered the polished button on his waistcoat.

Meet the Author

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Linda Holeman had always dreamed of becoming an author. Her first writing success came when she was in grade 5. A story she had written was aired on the CBC radio program “Story Broadcast Journal” and she still has a copy of the booklet it was published in.

Her career has included stints as a classroom and resource teacher and an adult workshop instructor. Her first published work as an adult was a collection of short stories called Saying Good-bye in 1995. She is the author of Frankie on the Run, a picture book and Flying to Yellow and The Devil’s Darning Needle, two collections of short stories for adults. Her fiction and non-fiction pieces have appeared in numerous anthologies.

Both Promise Song, her first young adult novel and Mercy’s Birds, her second, were selected for Books for the Teen Age lists by The New York Public Library. Her third YA novel, Raspberry House Blues, was published in Fall 2000 to excellent reviews. All three novels feature strong female teen protagonists and have been praised for the true representation of character, and especially, dialogue. Search of the Moon King’s Daughter is a new work of historical fiction, already being well received. Linda Holeman lives in Winnipeg.

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Search of the Moon King's Daughter 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read lots of books and this one stands out from the rest. It's a very bold book, it shows how tough life could be in the early 1800's...and the story wuz fantastic!! I've been reading it all day and i just finished!!! Through the story you really get to know the character, Emmaline. The story can be sad or exciting at points and it really captures the imagination :) I would reccomend it to anyone who likes historical fiction..adventure..or has everything!!