cover image The Executioner’s Daughter

The Executioner’s Daughter

Jane Hardstaff. Carolrhoda, $16.99 (264p) ISBN 978-1-60684-562-2

Set in England during the reign of Henry VIII, Hardstaff’s debut is a fast-moving and suspenseful adventure starring motherless 11-year-old Moss, who has lived all her life on London’s Tower Hill. Moss’s father’s job is to behead the Tower prisoners; hers is to carry away the severed heads in a basket. Jeered at as “basket girl,” Moss despises beheadings, but her father has always told her they themselves are prisoners whose lives are spared only because he serves as the king’s executioner. When Moss discovers that this is a lie—and that she is living under a curse from the Riverwitch who saved her as a newborn—she runs away, embarking on a hand-to-mouth existence filled with indignities and dangers, often accompanied by a generous young thief, who shares what little he has with Moss. Searching for the place she was conceived and aware that she is living on borrowed time, Moss is a headstrong, emotional, and determined heroine. Hardstaff believably conveys the gritty details of life on the edge in the context of historical events of the era. Ages 9–13. (Apr.)