cover image Fallen Grace

Fallen Grace

Mary Hooper, Bloomsbury, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-59990-564-8

It is 1861 London, and 15-year-old Grace, who cares for her childlike older sister, Lily, is on a funeral train to give a dignified burial to Grace's stillborn baby, which was conceived after she was raped. Grace and Lily are in dire financial circumstances—their mother is dead and their father left before Grace was born to seek his fortune in the Americas—and they make ends meet by selling watercress. But Grace's train ride brings her into contact with a series of characters—including a wealthy and corrupt family of undertakers, who Grace and her sister come to work for, and a handsome young lawyer—that dramatically change her fate. There's a Dickensian quality to Hooper's (Newes from the Dead) story (the man himself makes a brief appearance); that which seems random is in fact meticulously planned, and nothing, not even the bundle in Grace's arms, is as it seems. And though Hooper's period descriptions, while evocative, can slow the story at times, readers will be engaged by the twists, turns, and deceits of Grace's rags-to-riches story. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)