“Ye Toads and Vipers!”
Meggy Swann has reason to be angry. Her mother had finally succeeded in getting rid of her, having her dumped miles and miles from home at her father’s tiny house in London. She’s never met him before, and he clearly doesn’t want her. It’s not like she can run away somewhere else though. An accident at birth has left her legs crooked, and she is in constant pain.
Only able to walk with the help of two sticks, the world of 1573 can be an especially cruel place for such a one, but she has angrily adapted. Alchemy and Meggy Swann, by Karen Cushman, tells her story from the time she is dumped like a sack on her father’s narrow doorstep, frightened and seemingly helpless, to the brave things she must do to protect herself and others she has come to love.
This book is a very nice mix of story and history, but the story does come first, and the story follows from the characters dealing with the often dark and challenging world around them. Indeed, this is the time of Elizabeth I, and her courtiers’ intrigues amongst themselves draw in Meggy’s nearly penniless alchemist father, forcing her to make a very difficult decision.
Karen Cushman has written many more historical novels for young people, including the award-winning Catherine, Called Birdy and The Midwife’s Apprentice. Alchemy and Meggy Swann is available as an eBook, on audio, and in print.