Saturday, March 10, 2012

Review: The Dresskeeper

The Dresskeeper
by Mary Naylus

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 238
Publisher: Prospera
Release date: June 25, 2010
Suggested tags: young adult, time travel

(Please note: Somehow, my original review for this book was erased from my blog. This is the abbreviated review I posted elsewhere, along with the bits and pieces I could remember from the original review. This has been a lesson in backing up all reviews before posting. *grumble grumble*...)

Picky Robson is a 13-year-old who finds herself in 1680s London after trying on a dress in her grandmother's attic. She is still in the same attic, but someone else is there with her - someone who calls her Amelia and is trying to kill her. She escapes back to her own century just as the murderer's knife presses into her, but from the blood on the dress, she assumes Amelia was not so lucky.

Picky goes back and forth from her own time to the past by putting on and taking off different dresses in the attic, trying to find out who Amelia was and how she can save her from her fate. She has a hard time fitting in with the 17th century; she uses modern phrases that others don't understand, she asks to use a phone, and she actually suggests to one character that they download a book from the internet. (In the oft-repeated words of Picky herself: "No. Seriously.")

I really liked the fact that this wasn't a fluffy, "everything's peachy in the past!" type of time travel novel. Naylus introduces issues such as poverty, servitude, sanitation, and disease, which are almost foreign to modern-day Picky. The overall tone of the book is light, though; Picky is an entertaining, and at times hilarious, narrator. She springs little one-liners in now and then that catch you off guard and keep things from getting too serious.

The book has a solid, engaging pace that kept me reading for hours on end to see how Picky handled her own time and the past. The only downside was that the end felt a little rushed to me, and the reveal of the murderer was a little on the hard-to-believe side. (SPOILERS - highlight to read: I don't know, I just felt like Picky might have realized that it was a woman's hands on her when she was first attacked. And also regarding the end, I reeeally hope that whole 70% offer to her dad was just an act to gauge his reaction. I can think of 70 better things she could do with that 70%. However, the hint at Edwina's fate really appealed to the side of me that loves overly happy endings. :) ) I really enjoyed Naylus's style and her handling of the time period, and I will definitely be checking out her next book, The Plaguemaker, which sounds like it's in progress from the posts on her blog.

Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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