Timing is everything. In the summer of 1874, sixteen-year-old Salima wishes desperately to escape her mundane life on the Nile. As the world flocks to Egypt for the construction of the Suez Canal, the great waterway which will join East and West, Salima emerges into a world swirling with powerful imperial forces. Against all odds, Salima and her friends Emilie and Mikal (and Salima's beloved collie, Fadil) stand against the empires who seek to colonize Egypt.
By a twist of fate, Salima and her new friend Emile are recruited to help the Dutch, and are drawn into a shadowy world surrounding the Suez Canal construction. As she circulates through Cairo and the lands beyond, Salima discovers that her people have been enslaved to dig the canal, working without food, pay or respite. She demands fair treatment, lobbying for decent wages and safe working conditions-an unexpected heroine to the people of Egypt.
A second, more nefarious plot comes to light when it's revealed that the project's European financiers have swindled the Egyptians, and unless the terms can be changed, France and Britain will own Egypt's jewel, and likely her people as well.
Salima and Emilie travel south, to the Valley of Kings, to outsmart the assassins who stalk them. They encounter Khalid, the young rebel leader of the desert tribes. Growing love interests among the band of teen companions threatens to tear them apart, until a mysterious stranger helps them bring the past alive in order to save Egypt's future.
Tom Durwood draws on his background as an educator in literature to both educate and entertain readers in his newest historical fiction, The Illustrated Boatman's Daughter. Deftly presenting important literary themes like imperialism through the lens of a strong female protagonist, Durwood provides a dose of history for lovers of mystery and thrillers. The Illustrated Boatman's Daughter is an old-fashioned epic adventure story complete with swashbuckling fights, treachery and assassins. Readers will find revenge and heartbreak, anguish and love, secret identities, brave deeds in the face of overwhelming odds-and a new perspective on one of history's great tales.
Readers are also rewarded with a wealth of original illustrations by rising artists Serena Malyon, Niklas Frostgard, and Oliver Ryan. The story's dramatic visuals range from painterly portraits to storybook landscapes and moody cinematic action sequences.
"A true pleasure ... the richness of the layers of Tom's novel is compelling. The forty pieces of art complete the experience. The events of this adventure story progress fast. Confrontations take drastic turns. Salima is a heroine in the true sense. She is captivating."
-From the Foreword by Fatima Sharrafedine
"Compelling ... surprising ... strong characterization ... a powerful draw."