The White Dove

Lois Thompson Bartholomew, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $15 (208p) ISBN 978-0-618-00464-5
Bartholemew sets her first novel in an unspecified time in an imaginary kingdom called Comnor (named for its new king), relying on readers' assumptions about castles, forests and tyranny to fill in the many narrative gaps. As the book opens, Tasha, a former princess known as the White Dove, is sequestered in a workhouse for political prisoners and the poor. Democracy and monarchy vie for power: Tasha's father abdicated the throne to help create a republic but, after his death, nefarious Comnor claimed a right to the throne as the former king's alleged nephew. Tasha protects Raina, the young sister of the democratic resistance leader Marko, and fends off unwelcome marriage proposals from King Comnor until an aloof ""Old Man"" named Ari covertly places a carved white dove in her hand. Ari then engineers Tasha and Raina's escape; Tasha volunteers to help locate some essential documents in the royal castle then joins with Marko's resistance forces. However, Comnor remains such a cardboard figure of evil that it is difficult to believe he would have the charisma to stage a palace coup. Despite some intricate plotting and a few tense near misses (in a dark cave and rat-filled dungeon), the novel ultimately falls flat. Both the main and supporting characters as well as their relationships to one another remain cursorily developed. The unmasking of several characters' true identities at the end of the novel consequently delivers little suspense or resonance for readers. Ages 9-up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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