‘The Ravenmater’s Secret: The Escape From the Tower of London’ is a children’s book written by Elvira Woodruff and published in 2003, yet it can be recommended to people of all ages. Based on true facts of actual historical escape, Woodruff created a thrilling story, including both adventures and description of XVIII century England. It was her own experience from visiting the Tower, which made Woodruff write the book, and she managed to perfectly reflect the spirit of Tower’s history and make the reader to immerse oneself into this spirit. This paper aims to provide a brief review of Woodruff’s book including plot, form and style.
The book is written in the genre of historical fiction and the action takes place in March 1735. The main character of ‘The Ravenmater’s Secret’ is an 11 year old boy named Forrest Harper who describes his boring in just a few words “Chores, chores and more chores. How am I ever to prove my courage, Tuck, if I am made to do nothing but chores all day? ” (Woodruff 1). Forrest is a son of a ravenmaster and lives with his family in the Tower of London and his job is to help his father deal with the famous Tower ravens and sometimes with prisoners, whom his father used to feed, and yet he dreams about adventures and glory.
Forrest seems to have a chance when Scottish rebels are brought to the Tower, including a girl named Maddy, who is a daughter of one of the rebels.. Forrest is dissatisfied because such a prisoner will make his pals laugh and envious about a daughter of a rebel who is richer than his family. Still very soon Maddy, the girl, softens Forrest’s heart with her beauty and outgoingness and they become good friends. So when all the Scotch, including Maddy are sentenced to death, Forrest has to face a hard choice: whether to let Maddy die or to betray the Crown and help her escape.
So his courage and mind are tested in the most unexpected way when Forrest has to solve this dramatic dilemma, finally choosing to save Maddy, being guided by heart. Forrest’s adventures, which are risky and often very dangerous, create the plot of the book. The language of the book is rather simple, yet very exciting. Woodruff does not only guide the reader through the story, but describes many interesting episodes about the character of the people of that time a well. For example, Forrest and Rat discuss the ghosts of the Tower and Rat is afraid, that evil spirits can turn his blood into vinegar.
Woodruff describes clothes, food and habits of XVIII century Londoners, so her book can become a historical source for young readers. Moreover, to make the book even more vivid in the first edition it is amended by a map, which allows to trace the action and turns reading into a thrilling game for children and adults. ‘The Ravenmater’s Secret’ is a perfect book for family reading which both children and adults would surely enjoy, so it can be highly recommended to purchase and read.