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In 1794 England, the beautiful Sovay dons a man's cloak and holds up stagecoaches in broad daylight. Posing as a highway robber began as a lark to test a suitor's devotion. But when she lifts the wallet of one of England's most dangerous men, Sovay begins to unravel a web of deceit and duplicity. Acclaimed author Celia Rees' talent for romance and intrigue are sure to thrill a paperback audience.

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In 1794 England, the beautiful Sovay dons a man's cloak and holds up stagecoaches in broad daylight. Posing as a highway robber began as a lark to test a suitor's devotion. But when she lifts the wallet of one of England's most dangerous men, Sovay begins to unravel a web of deceit and duplicity. Acclaimed author Celia Rees' talent for romance and intrigue are sure to thrill a paperback audience.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Rees's (Witch Child) evocative writing will once again sweep readers back in time to meet another of her iron-willed protagonists, Sovay, who is fashioned after the heroine of a traditional British ballad. Raised in the English countryside during the French Revolution, 17-year-old Sovay embarks on a mission to find her missing father and brother, who've been condemned for supporting the Revolution. Her search takes her to dangerous corners of London and Paris, where she plays the roles of highway robber, spy and socialite to gather clues and outwit a treacherous villain who desires to overthrow Britain's throne. History buffs will relish detailed descriptions of period dress, inventions and architecture sprinkled throughout the novel, but may be most intrigued by the author's insight into France's shift of power after the storming of the Bastille. Capturing the romantic, dramatic flavor of late-18th-century prose ("However much she fought against it, a sense of menace, vague, but all-pervading, began to seep into her soul") without compromising the complexity of her characters, the author creates a suspenseful tale of political intrigue and class struggle. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
VOYA - Jamie S. Hansen
Bored with her life in a country manor house, wealthy young Sovay Middleton disguises herself in men's clothing to take up highway robbery, stopping coaches to steal from the passengers. The adrenaline rush-not the takings-attracts her to this dangerous game. She tosses coins in cottagers' gardens and refuses to rob the poorer travelers. The pastime turns serious, however, when one passenger's possessions include an arrest warrant for her father, whose radical beliefs in liberty, equality, and fraternity have brought him unwanted attention from some of England's most powerful Royalists. Now Sovay has a purpose in life: to find her father and save him from arrest and execution for treason. She sets out on a journey of great peril and risk that takes her from the seedy back streets of London to the forbidding prisons of Revolutionary Paris. Taking as her inspiration a traditional English ballad, also titled Sovay, about a young woman who became a highwayman to test her lover's devotion, Rees produces an appealingly fast-paced and suspenseful historical novel with plenty of plot twists, dastardly villains, and a brave, resourceful young heroine. Only a few anachronisms of speech and usage mar the dialogue, making the novel an excellent choice for readers who enjoy well-crafted historical fiction. Reviewer: Jamie S. Hansen
Children's Literature - Leslie Greaves Radloff
Rees' novel about a young, well-bred, upper-class Englishwoman turned highwayman is a page-turner. The story is set in the late 1700s. It is after the American Revolution and during the Reign of Terror in France. Forces in England are threatening the monarchy. Readers meet teenaged Sovay as she rides out to challenge the young man who is courting her—as a highwayman. She has been betrayed in love and is determined to set things right. What begins as a lark—albeit a lark done for the thrill and because the young man is no gentleman—sweeps Sovay into the political intrigues of English, French, and American interests. Once involved there is no going back. Fearing for the lives of both her father and brother Hugh, who are in France, Sovay continues to ride as Captain Blaze and becomes more determined to help the cause. As she goes, she garners quite a reputation for fearlessness. Along the way, she meets another highwayman, Captain Greenwood. He becomes her protector when plans go awry. Toss into the mix the seamy side of London, a slimy double agent who just might be in cohoots with the devil, a fantastic country house named Thursley Abbey where nothing is as it seems, beautiful clothes, just enough hinted-at sex, and thrilling escapes—you have a first rate story! Readers will be thrilled by Sovay's reckless bravery and the by the young men who fall in love with her. The novel is a bit of The Scarlet Pimpernel and Tale of Two Cities, with elements akin to Victoria Holt and Daphne du Maurier and a dose of Alfred Noyes The Highwayman. It is historically accurate with believable characters. Rees has captured the feel for the times and given the endingjust the right twist. Reviewer: Leslie Greaves Radloff
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up

It's 1794, and the revolution in France is threatening to spill across the channel into England, where Sovay, the beautiful 17-year-old daughter of a gentleman, turns to holding up carriages while in disguise to break her boredom. Then her father disappears and is charged with treason, and, with the persuasion of the notorious highwayman Captain Greenwood and the American Virgil Barrett, she becomes embroiled in the political issues of the day, eventually traveling to Paris during the final days of the Reign of Terror. Rees develops strong (and frequently mysterious) characters to carry this historical novel. The vivid sense of place, especially in France, will cause readers to experience the French Revolution on a personal level. Ultimately, the epitome of evil is not Robespierre or his underlings, but the crowds of ordinary citizens who accept the horrors without flinching. Unfortunately, these strengths are undermined by troubles with the plot. Reference to "The Highwayman" that opens the book serves no purpose in the overall story except to introduce Greenwood and display Sovay's courage. The historical events are not fully fleshed out, and readers unfamiliar with the Reign of Terror are offered no explanatory notes or afterword. Two possible love interests for Sovay are trumped in the last 100 pages by a third character, and readers may be frustrated with the neat ending.-Melissa Moore, Union University Library, Jackson, TN

Kirkus Reviews
It's best not to mess with Sovay Middleton. When this fearless 17-year-old living in 1794 England finds out her fiance cheated on her, she disguises herself as a rough-and-tumble highwayman and gallops off, determined to humiliate the "lecherous, double-dealing, false-hearted, despicable, craven little villain." She does, too. The beautiful heroine, still under the guise of "Captain Blaze," then embarks on a perilous journey to find her missing father and brother, whose allegedly seditious words have marked them as traitors to England's king. While rampant spies, gunplay, cross-dressing young male prostitutes, stolen kisses, angry mobs and even the gory public execution of Robespierre keep things spicy, Rees pauses to spell out, often rather stiffly, the political motivations of her characters, with relation to issues of class inequality in particular. The villains look like villains, the right people show up on cue and the frissons of love are just plain odd in this fast-paced, unabashedly over-the-top novel, but readers who want some revolution with their romance may be happy to suspend disbelief and enjoy the swashbuckling. (afterword) (Historical fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599904832
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 6/22/2010
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 1,418,392
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 5.18 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

CELIA REES is the bestselling author of many books for young readers, including Pirates!, Sovay, Witch Child, and Sorceress. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty languages. Celia lives in England with her husband and teenage daughter.

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Read an Excerpt


Copyright © 2008

Celia Rees
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-59990-203-6

Chapter One May, 1794

Sovay rode out early while the dew was still wet on the grass. The grooms had not risen when she stole from the stables, and thin layers of mist wound themselves round her horse's legs like skeins of discarded muslin as she crossed the bridge over the lake. Once she was away from the house, she spurred her horse to a gallop, crouched close to his neck as she took the old green road through the forest and up on to the common. There, she took up station at the crossroads, positioning herself in a grove of young birch, ready for the London coach, certain that he would be on it. Then she would expose him for the lecherous, double-dealing, false-hearted, despicable, craven little villain that she now knew him to be.

They were engaged and he had betrayed her with a chambermaid. Even the thought of him filled her with shaking fury.

'Not the first he's ruined, neither,' her maid, Lydia, had told her, giving her a look. With no mother, and only an invalid aunt to advise her, Lydia had taken some aspects of Sovay's moral guidance upon herself. Well, she needn't worry on that score. Sovay had not been that much of a fool. Not quite.

Her anger was mixed with a restless impatience. Where was the coach? She wanted this over. Her horse sensed something of her agitation and stamped and pawed, his shoes ringing on the stony ground. She patted his neck and whispered in his ear to quieten him. The air was full of the sweet musky scent of broom and gorse. When gorse is out of bloom, love is out of favour. She remembered her mother telling her that. It must have been a long time ago. She plucked a sprig of yellow broom and fixed it to the brim of her brother's hat, her mind going back to the revenge she would have. She would make him beg, she would make him crawl and plead for his life. If he failed the test she was about to set for him, she would shoot him dead.

The crack of a driver's whip, his shouts and curses, the crunch of wheels and the labouring snort of horses broke into her thoughts. She spied through a veil of shifting leaves. There was no other traffic in any direction. She pulled down the black mask that she'd worn at last winter's masked ball and pulled up a green silk kerchief to hide the lower half of her face. The coach creaked almost to a halt at the crest of the rise, the horses sweating after the steep hill. As the driver drew back his whip to urge them onward, Sovay drew her pistols and walked her horse forward.

'Stand and deliver!'

Her words were whipped away by the wind, swallowed by the great open space of the common. She repeated her demand, making her voice deeper, more commanding, and the guard raised his hands into the air while the driver reined the horses in and lowered his whip. Her heart beat harder when she saw that they obeyed her. She kept one pistol upon them and used the other to rap on the door of the carriage.

'Out. All of you out!'

Two passengers alighted: James, looking pale and frightened, and another young man. He was well-set, with a fresh, ruddy complexion, a little above her brother's age, about four and twenty. He was in no hurry to get down from the coach and seemed neither worried nor discomforted by this interruption to his journey, and his self-assurance unnerved her. Sovay trained her pistol on him as she ordered the two to part with their valuables and place them in the saddlebag that she threw down to them.

While James sprang to follow her instructions, the other one showed more reluctance, but soon she had divested both of their watches and their gold.

'Still I want one thing more,' she said, addressing James. 'That diamond ring that I see you wear. Hand it over and your life I will spare.'

She could feel her hand shaking when before it had been steady. This was the test she had set for him. The ring had been given as an expression of true love in an exchange of tokens. He had sworn to die rather than part with it. If he gave it to her, then all the doubts she harboured, all the stories that she had heard about him, were true. James did not hesitate; he was struggling to free the ring from his finger, spitting on his hand to work the band loose. She changed her aim and her hand shook no more. She didn't need to make James beg and crawl. He was doing that of his own accord. He had fallen to his knees, squeezing tears from eyes shut tight in prayer, his clasped hands shaking in supplication.

'Hold your fire, highwayman,' the fair young man said as she pulled back the hammer.

He took the ring from James and brought the bag over to her, slinging it in front of her saddle. She holstered one of her pistols and he dropped the ring into her outstretched hand. The stone flashed in the sun.

'He has given you everything.' The young man looked up at her. 'What more could you want from him? Small hands for a highwayman,' he added and smiled as if he knew her secret.

He was quick. He read her intention in an instant. His eyes still on her, he threw up her arm as she squeezed the trigger. James screamed but the shot missed. The horses reared and shied in their traces so the driver had to struggle to stop them from breaking away and the coach from overturning. Sovay used the confusion to make her escape. She had business back at the house.

* * *

Sovay suppressed a sigh of impatience as the painter bent to his painstaking work. She tried not to move, as she had been instructed on numerous occasions, although she was afire with anticipation. She and James had an assignation at their usual trysting place in the garden. He would arrive; he might even be waiting for her now, with no idea that she was the highwayman who had stopped him on the road. Perhaps he would not even refer to it, preferring to keep his recent humiliation to himself. Perhaps she would let him pretend for a time, certainly she might do so, before she made a play of noticing the absence of the ring. The very thought of that made her tremble and Jonathan Trenton gave a moue of impatience.

'How many times do I have to ask you?' he said without looking up from the tiny brush strokes he was making.

Sovay murmured an apology and stared out at the garden behind him. She had never wanted to sit for this likeness. It was entirely Papa's idea. He had also chosen the artist. A coming young man who had studied under the late Sir Joshua Reynolds. Papa liked to encourage artists early on in their careers. Sovay disliked Trenton. His voice was high-pitched and whining, his manner fussy and overbearing. She sensed that the antipathy was mutual, although he said little to her, except to scold.

The portrait was almost finished and he was glad of it. This was a good commission and he'd been paid in advance, but he had to travel up from town to take her likeness and these were dangerous times. Highwaymen prowled the roads, preying on all comers, even poor painters, and there was unrest in town and countryside alike, sparked by the terrible events in France. He was not of a cowardly nature and would happily have braved the danger, if he had enjoyed the work, but the young woman standing before him had not proved to be the easiest of subjects. The girl possessed a definite dark beauty, a quality he would like to capture, but her face had a sullen cast, her expression a mask that gave nothing away.

Except for today. There was a flush to her cheeks, a heightening of colour. He applied an extra touch of rose madder. Something had happened to change her gaze from stony indifference to restless animation. He exchanged brushes to add tiny sparks of white and ultramarine to her slate grey eyes. She either stood with such stillness that he was hard put not to paint her like a statue, or she would not keep still. This morning she was inclined to fidget. She had something in her hand. She kept fiddling with it, turning it through her fingers. Something gold and round.

'What is that you are holding?' He would refrain from scolding, but she knew not to introduce variations in habit or accoutrements to their sessions.

'It's a watch.' She turned the face to him.

He grunted, dismissing it. A watch would hardly fit in with the way he had chosen to portray her. Something else caught his interest. She was wearing a ring on the middle finger of her left hand. What on earth had possessed her to do that?

Her hand moved and the diamond flashed in fragments of refracted light as a shaft of early afternoon sun struck through the window that opened from the garden. Her head turned slightly, her eyes moved as if to see past him and through the billowing curtain. There was someone out there waiting for her. A lover, he guessed. The source of her agitation? A further wash of madder across her cheeks seemed to signal the answer.

'You may go,' he said.

She stepped out of her pose and came towards him.

'Have you finished?'

'A little more to do,' he shrugged. 'But the real answer is yes.' She made to pass him, her mind already in the garden beyond the window. 'Do you not want to see yourself?'

She stopped and looked directly at him. A frank gaze, challenging and insolent, as direct and unwavering as if she was a young man.

'The real answer is no. I do not like to look at myself.'

The painter laughed. 'All women like to look at themselves, young or old.'

'Believe me, Mr Trenton, when I say that I do not. I did not want this likeness. I only sat for you to please Papa.'

'Even so ...' To his annoyance he found himself wheedling, almost pleading. It was suddenly important that she should approve his work.

She stepped past him to look at her portrait. He half smiled, waiting for her to be caught by the spell of her own beauty, cast by the skill of his portraiture. He had seen it many times before. The dress that she wore for the sittings glowed against her skin. The fine white muslin had been difficult to paint but he thought that he had caught the right gauzy lightness. The girl was seventeen, but the style of dress chosen by her father was flowing and loose fitting, more suitable for a younger child. The scarlet sash, that Sovay had chosen to wind round her waist, went some way to lessen the impression of innocence. Trenton stood back examining his work. The white and the red showed off her dark beauty to perfection. He had caught her on the cusp, at the moment of transition from girl to woman. Even with that sullen smoulder, she might never be lovelier ...

'You are a great admirer of your own work, I see.'

The irony of her tone brought the blood to his own face.

'An artist is only as good as his subject,' he replied with a bow.

'Smoothly said,' she smiled, and her whole face changed. He wished they had time to start over again.

'What do you think?' Suddenly, it was important for him to know.

'It is fine work. You are a good painter. But ...'

'But what?'

'I do not like to look at myself, as I said. Now, you really must excuse me.'

With that she left him for her assignation in the garden, running as fast as the goddess, Diana, the classical persona he had chosen for her. He went to the window, peering through the curtains, hoping to gain a glimpse of this young man who had so captured her attention, but she soon disappeared past the great cedar tree and into a tunnel of trees that sheltered the Terrace Walk. The young leaves were at their most beautiful: the deep bronze of copper beech blended with delicate golds and the palest of greens to show like a scatter of coin against the dark gloss of the evergreens. He turned back into the room and packed the colours away in his head as he began to assemble his things. He would finish the portrait in his Covent Garden studio. He would put her in a pastoral setting, something a little wild: woodland in early summer, with a lake perhaps and mountains in the background. He liked to add a touch of the allegorical. His favourite for young women was Flora, goddess of flowers, youth, spring and fertility, but that would hardly do here. She had to be Diana, the huntress. He would give her a bow and a canine companion, perhaps a stag caught in a thicket. He grunted with satisfaction. That would do well and it could all be done in the safety of London.

* * *

Sovay ran along the Great Terrace, propelled by fury. She was late, but that did not matter, let him wait. She had turned the diamond round so it bit into her palm. She held the watch curled tight in her fist. He was lucky she did not have pistols with her, or she would finish what she should have done earlier.

When she reached the Oval Pavilion, their preferred place of meeting, James wasn't even there. She refused to sit on the stone bench inside the semicircular stone shelter. If she did so, she could not fail to notice the entwined initials carved on the round table, circled by a heart. Even looking at that wretched seat made her want to vomit. Sometimes when they met, in pursuit of greater privacy, they would mount the curving stairway that led to the little 'prospect' room. Sovay fought to control shuddering waves of fury and humiliation. They would not be going there any more.

She paced up and down, her gown brushing the grass, ready to show the watch and the ring, ready to confront him, but first she would taunt him, pay him out for his betrayal. She slipped the watch and the ring into her pocket. She would enjoy watching him squirm.

He arrived full of apologies, with tales of having been set upon on the road by a band of rogues. He had been ready to put up a fight, but the craven nature of his travelling companion meant that they'd had everything taken from them.

'Even the ring I gave you?'

'Even that.' He held his hand out, fingers spread.

'As you can see. I pleaded with the ruffians, but they would have killed me.'

'But it was a token of my love for you.' She looked at him, her large eyes full of hurt and accusation. 'You said you would rather die than part with it.'

'I was set upon, I told you!' He stepped forward, as if to kiss her. 'Come, love, let us not quarrel.'

Sovay turned from him. 'Even so ...'

She stepped away. He made to follow, his face full of persuading. He was pretty rather than handsome, she realised now, with the kind of sweetness of face that might cause a young girl to lose her heart; but his pale blue eyes were set rather too close together and there was weakness in the chin, petulance in the set of the mouth. How could she ever have found him in the least bit attractive? He did not look his nineteen years. The skin on his cheeks was petal smooth and looked as if it hardly saw a razor; his powdered curls were as soft as a child's.

She turned, withdrawing her hand from her pocket. His eyes grew wider and the blood rose in his cheeks to see his watch dangling from her fist, his ring on her own finger. She threw his gold on the ground before him. He stepped back, hands up, as if to block out the sight of the glittering coins.

'It was you!' he said, and blushed even further, but all the time his eyes grew colder and it was not long before he rallied.

His father had been keen on the match in the beginning. There was wealth in the family, passed from mother to daughter. 'She'll come in for a pretty penny when she is twenty-one,' his father had told him, his eyes gleaming as if he could already see the gold spread before them, but circumstances had changed. He would use the news to mask this humiliation. He was lucky to escape her. There had always been stories. Especially about her mother's family, that their wealth was based on pirate gold. It had been expedient to ignore them. Until now. The whole family was tainted. Today's behaviour confirmed it. A girl who would dress as a highway-man and rob a coach in broad daylight, who would want such a one for a wife?

'The watch I would like returning,' he said, 'but you may keep your ring. I have no use for it. That is what I came to tell you.' He looked skyward as if recalling the words he had rehearsed. 'It is all over between us, Sovay. We can no longer be affianced. Your father is little better than a Jacobin spy and will shortly be arrested. My family cannot continue an association with anyone who shows anything less than complete loyalty to His Majesty.'

Sovay stared at him, trying to make sense of the words coming out of his mouth.

"Tis true, Sovay!' James exclaimed, unsettled by her continuing silence. 'I've heard your father speak sedition on very many occasions. Speaking against the King and the Government. You cannot deny it.'

'I certainly do!' Sovay turned on him. 'He has never spoken against the King! He's for reform, of course, but that's a very different thing.'


Excerpted from Sovay by CELIA REES Copyright © 2008 by Celia Rees. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 54 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 54 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A great, muddled mess

    I just want to apologize firstly because this review is not very kind, and I don't like posting this kind of review but I'm . . . doing it anyway.

    Sovay has an excellent premise: a girl dressing as a highwayman to test the strength of her lover's devotion while her family is caught up in the French revolution.

    First, I have to mention the characters, because they are the heart of the story and drive the plot (or, at least, they're supposed to). Sovay is a pure Mary-Sue. She's perfect, beautiful, intelligent, willful, etc. etc. etc. Somehow every male who's not The Bad Guy falls immediately in love with her. She has probably 8 different love interests in the story, and she chooses one introduced in the last 8th of the book, who's as characterless as her. The romance between them is rushed and without purpose. There are a hundred different characters introduced at once (and at length) that add absolutely nothing vital to the plot. One of the biggest crimes here is Gabriel. He's introduced in the beginning of the story, and I felt like he should have some importance to the story. But nope, he's forgotten. Gets captured by The Bad Guy (who's just SO Bad that I won't even acknowledge how terrible I thought he was as an antagonist) and then forgotten. Does he escape? Is he happy? Apparently he still loves Sovay (that's just mentioned, it's never actually show, but whatever) so I can assume he doesn't have that happy of an ending. And he really wanted to be part of the revolution, with his whole being, so what does Celia Rees do? Lock him up until the revolution's over and don't mention him! Yay!

    Furthermore, the characters are just devices of the plot. Do they drive any action? No. Is the plot formed by their choices/fears/aspirations? No. It's all so contrived. Example: in what I thought was supposed to be a climactic scene, when everyone is looking at The Bad Guy, ready to catch him, suddenly Rees mentions a thought or two of Sovay and then suddenly: Whoa! Where did The Bad Guy go? Dangit, we lost him! Um . . . everyone was looking at him. . . just because Rees takes us into one person's thoughts doesn't mean everyone else in the scene is so diverted. Come on! And then The Bad Guy proceeds to escape via random hot air balloon. What?

    Secondly, I'm going to address Rees's writing because it was the second most offending thing about this book. She writes to create the most tedious scenes that evoke no emotion other than boredom. And she repeated things constantly. It got on my nerves. I can't even explain how annoyed I was. She would write that Sovay rode all day, describing the ride and the hardships she endured during it, then once Sovay reached an inn, she would mention how "Sovay was very tired, given she had been riding all day long very hard and stuff." Okay. I got that from the FIRST PASSAGE. And she does this over. And over.

    She writes emotions outside of the dialogue all the time. "She was nervous because . . . " "This made him angry . . . " "Then she became afraid, but showed her anger instead . . ." etc. She never SHOWS an emotion. Never. Not a single example comes to mind. In the end, she tells us about the characters so we could recite how everyone else in the story supposedly feels about them, but as a reader I don't even know how to describe how I feel about the character. Was Sovay willful? Well of course because it was only mentioned in every single dialogue. But did she

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2012

    To be honest, this book was a little slow. Sometimes the charact

    To be honest, this book was a little slow. Sometimes the characters were a little confusing and at some points in the story it was hard to keep reading. It also seemed like the author strayed away from the storyline a little too much, which also made it harder to focus on. And I really didn't get why Sovay had such a sudden need to be rebellious, either...

    But overall, it was an interesting read. I defiantly recommend it for some one looking for a good book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2012


    It was a good book, but some parts of it just kept going on and on and were pretty boring. Other than that, this was a really good book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2011


    I loved pirates as a light fun shallow read, but sovay was long and tedious, and the storyline unrelatable. I wish I would of borrowed it instead of purchasing it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Higwayman Adventures

    This was an old favorite of mine. I've read Celia's Rees' other books, but quickly became bored with them. Sovay had the same problem, but I kept reading for its mystery and strong plot.

    A few qualms I had with this was the constant reminder that Sovay was beautiful and headstrong. It crossed into overkill about eighty pages in. Rees needs to give her reader's more credit; we're smart enough to figure out she's beautiful by her first description and reckless by what she does.

    That brings up the often broken 'show, don't tell' rule. She needs to describe things more through events and gestures than plainly saying the character's emotions or other such descriptions.

    The omniescent POV became annoying, for in the middle of the chapter it would switch and catch the reader off guard. Sovay is the main character, and I'd have liked it kept in her POV, and the plot developments she revealed using this technique could have been shown in another way. The book was also poorly formatted as for the way things unfolded.

    The ending was rather disappointing for the fact that I would have liked to found out what happened to the other characters. However, I was kept in suspense up until the very end. The climax was as good as it gets. Though I was disappointed by Leon's intrusion later in the book. I just didn't really like his personality.

    Other than that, the intrigue and overall story was good. I loved Sovay and her journeys as a highwayman, which is a plot I've never seen before. The grammar is consistent, though sometimes Rees seems to trip up. Still, Sovay is a thoroughly enjoyable book. I especially liked the inclusion of the French Revolution and how it was viewed by the English.

    Rees did a very good job in setting the scenes, and providing the ambiance for the time. The book was deliciously exciting and will keep you reading. I suggest this book simply for how fun it is.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2009

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    it was a really good story line...but, personably the ending was really...not finished and she needed to make the love intrest more prominent in the story line. and i think she ended up with the wrong guy. just because he wasn't in the story enough.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2008

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    Reviewed by Sarah Bean the Green Bean Teen Queen for

    It's England, 1783. America has recently won independence and a revolution is going on in France. Anyone and everyone in England is suspect for treason, and spies are everywhere. <BR/><BR/>Sovay Middleton donned a man's cloak and posed as a highway robber in order to prove her lover disloyal. But when she stumbles upon papers that belong to one of England's most powerful and dangerous men, she finds her family's life at stake. Her father and brother are being accused of treason, and Sovay is the only one who can save them. <BR/><BR/>No one is who they seem and not everyone can be trusted. Danger, intrigue, deception, and secrets fill this richly historical novel. <BR/><BR/>Author Celia Rees' newest historical novel is full of detail and lots of mystery. There are many twists are turns throughout the book. I did find the amount of characters to be confusing at times, but stick with it and you will be rewarded. If you enjoy historical fiction with strong female characters, you'll love SOVAY.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 22, 2008

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    Yet another case of don't judge a book by its inside cover.

    After reading the description, I figured Sovay was the story of a spoiled girl who became a female Robin Hood and ended up falling in love with one of the men she stole from and she ended up happily ever after. HA! So not this story. Sovay is a well written book that starts with a girl in 1794 England when the English government is very nervous about the revolution in France giving its citizens ideas about democracy and equality. Yes, Sovay does do a stint as a highwayman, but not for the reasons I originally thought. She becomes embroiled in governmental intrigue when her father and brother have warrants put against them for seditious ideas. Having been betrayed by her fiancee, Sovay, after stealing the warrant for her father, travels to London then to France in search of her father and brother becoming ever more deeply drawn into plots of revolutionaries and governmental figures. An intelligent and entertaining read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2012

    Entertaining Read

    This novel keep me entertained throughout the whole plot. Though the ending was predictable, the characters were likeable so it was easy to be happy with the expected outcome. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys teen historical fiction!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2014


    I am seeing lots of unapeciating reviws of this book and am here to say I loved it. This book was amazing and I got through it in about two days. So yeah. Loved it

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  • Posted September 11, 2013

    This book turned out to be something completely different than

    This book turned out to be something completely different than the book description said it would be. It delved deeper into what was happening in England during the French Revolution. There were spies, many potential love interests for Sovay, and action. But the novel didn't really mesh together well. First Sovay was trying out being a highwayman for fun and for revenge, and then it turned out that her father was accused of being a spy. Then some villain comes in with such evil intent that it was ridiculous. Then for some purpose Sovay visits the villain's house and then it becomes confusing from there. What I was very disappointed about was the love interest of Sovay. There were plenty of men in her life that the reader becomes favorable to, and then when the love interest is revealed, it feels as if it was a last minute thing. I was very disappointed in Celia Rees for how this novel's story turned out. I did like her novel Pirates! And the reason for me to read this novel was because of how much I liked that novel. I would not recommend this novel to anyone because it was so confusing. I give it two stars because the characters are realistic and likeable. The writing was also well done.

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  • Posted July 6, 2011

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    Hard to understand

    I try to read books with an open mind, and i was excited to read a novel that took place in the french revolution. I teied to keep up but the book was going no where for me. I could not finish it, but I was pretty close. I began to read a more interesting historical fiction novel.

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  • Posted January 6, 2010



    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2009

    Adventures of a Highwayman

    I read Sovay by Celia Rees. Sovay is a historical fiction novel. This is a great book. It is full of action and adventure. Sovay is not your average girl; she hides as a highway robber to get her father's name cleared. Sovay takes place in London, England, at about the time of the French Revolution.
    Sovay is a girl who isn't a classic teen. She disguises herself as a highwayman, at first to see is the boy she loves, loves her back. What she finds is a warrant for her father's arrest, for treason. She must find her brother, to find evidence to prove her father's innocence. She alone knows he is not guilty, but she doesn't have the authority to testify in court. Sovay finds that her brother has been expelled from college and is most likely residing in France. She joins with Captain Greenwood, another highwayman, to find her brother, going to France if need be. One of her father's servants, Gabriel, helps her amass money for her father's release if they cannot find her brother. Sovay finds that she needs to expose Dysart's (the spymaster) tyranny to the rest of London, if she herself wants to live.
    Sovay is written in the third person. Celia uses some difficult vocabulary that I had to look up. The tone is always sort of serious even if the characters are joking, there is always some darkness lurking in the corner.
    Anyone who likes historical fiction will be satisfied with this book. Sovay is actually a novel, written from an old English ballad. There is some romance and mystery also. It is a great book, if you like suspense.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2009


    I did not enjoy this book. I have never not finished a book before, but I could just not get into this book. The story has a really cool idea, and when I read the back I thought it sounded interesting and fast-paced. I hate to say a book was terrible, but I did not enjoy this book at all. It drags on and on and never gets to the point. I would not recommend buying this book.

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  • Posted April 17, 2009

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    Not What I expected

    I love Celia Rees. She is a great author. This book did not prove that. I mean, Sovay was an amazing character. She was stronge and smart and could do anything she set her mind to.
    The problem was, the story was not that good. I expected something as good as Witch Child. I carried that book around with me until I finished it. I thought this book would be like that, I was sadly mistaken.
    But don't judge the author just by this book, she is really a good writer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2009

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    Ummmm.... Hmmmmm.... Was NOT the best....

    Just as my headline says... this was not the best book. I really did hate how the author switched from one person to another....

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 25, 2008

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    Surprise Ending

    This book was a little boring in the beginning. It has a good plotline though, a high society girl in England who is beautiful but doesn't care. Her idea of fun is acting a highway man in disguise, but never harms anyone in the process. Until her father and brother disappear, and Sovay thinks they've gone to Paris. She meets an American man, Virgil, who goes with her along the way. She also meets Captain Greenwood, a fellow highwayman, and Toby, a young boy, and Leon, a frenchman. The book gets more intense and better near the end. The end was a surprise to me, mainly because it didn't turn out the way I wanted it to, although it was still a good ending. I'm also hoping their is a sequel, just so I can see what happenes, althought I doubt it. The book was a little boring and dragging in the beginning, but otherwise it is a 3/5 starred book

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  • Posted November 6, 2008

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    I did not enjoy this book

    I tried really hard to get into this book but i just couldn't. I just felt like the story kept dragging on. Maybe I'll try reading it again someday. I have loved all of Celia Rees's other books so I was a little disappointed with this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2008

    A book as intriguing as the characters.

    'Sovay' is the first book I have read by Celia Rees 'I have yet to read Pirates!'. Young and beautiful Sovay Middleton decides to test her suitors love and when she receives disappointing results, confronts him. Of course, he was only putting up false pretenses. In actuality, he was spying on her family. He deems them treasonous and so begins the adventure. Sovay takes up being a highwayman in order to save her family, and in the process, getting herself mixed up in an underground network of spies that leads her to France during the revolution. This book was absolutely magnificent. I couldn't put it down for a second, the suspense was too great. Cees managed to craft intriguing characters that draw you into the plot. This story is easily relatable, such as Sovay's concern for her brother and father and the feelings she acquires during her journey. The ending was the most suspenseful part. Usually, I can predict what happened in the end, but this book kept me on the edge. Eventually, it left me wanting more. The only bad thing is that some loose ties with the characters were left undone. Otherwise, this book was terrific. I recommend it to anyone who likes to see a strong heroine and mystery, action, and adventure.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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