Just Hatched is a feature where I share my first impressions of a book after the first chapter. Check out the announcement post for more information.
The Left-Handed Fate blends historical fiction with a touch of middle-grade adventure fantasy. The protagonists are all tweens and teens who step into adult roles alongside older family members during the war of 1812. As people on both sides of the British-American and British-French conflicts strive to find the pieces of a mysterious magical object that will end the war, loyalties and friendships are challenged.
Note: I received an advanced copy of THE LEFT-HANDED FATE from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
The Left-Handed Fate by Kate Milford
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on August 23, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, MG
Page Length: 384 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Lucy Bluecrowne and Maxwell Ault are on a mission: find the three pieces of a strange and arcane engine. They're not exactlysure what this machine does, but they have it on good authority that it will stop the war that's raging between their home country of England and Napoleon Bonaparte's France. Despite being followed by mysterious men dressed all in black, they're well on their way to finding everything they need when their ship, the famous Left-Handed Fate, is taken by the Americans.
And not just any Americans. The Fate (and with it, Lucy and Max) are put under the command of Oliver Dexter, who's only just turned twelve.
But Lucy and Max aren't the only ones trying to put the engine together, and if the pieces fall into the wrong hands, it could prove disastrous. Oliver is faced with a choice: help Lucy and Max and become a traitor to his country? Or follow orders and risk endangering that same country and many others at the same time--not to mention his friends?
How is the writing style?
Milford has a deft touch when it comes to interweaving historically accurate details with the fantasy elements of the search for the “philosophical” machine that everyone assumes is some sort of super weapon. It reminds me of both Ester Forbes’ Johnny Tremain and The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.
The story is told in the third person, with the point of view shifting to follow the various protagonists as they gradually come together. Since this is as much a mystery as an adventure story, we know only as much as the protagonists know about the situation and the arcane object that they hunt.
General tone of the beginning
The reader is plunged into this mystery and a race against time right alongside the young crew members of two ships. Despite sea battles, the risk of discovery by opposing forces, and the tension of chasing down the object before others find all of the pieces, the tone remains light and appropriate for middle-grade readers.
Setting, genre, etc?
The setting is in the Americas during 1812. Much of the action takes place on the Atlantic seaboard or aboard naval vessels, making it an interesting settling for young readers who may have heard a great deal about the Revolutionary War but who have little exposure to the second conflict that was a great test of the new United States government and its war-weary populace.
Other than the magical object that is at the heart of the plot, the setting is a pretty mundane close alternative to our reality.
- My current read, leave me alone! (~5 stars)
- Reading in the near future *hides from TBR pile glare* (~4 stars)
- Hoping to get back to it eventually (~3 stars)
- Probably not getting back to but someone else will like it (~2 stars)
- Don’t really want to push this copy on anyone else (~1 star)
I am enjoying the book and am curious about what the arcane object is. Some hints have been dropped already with the discovery of the first component, and I would like to see what the three young people (two Brits and one American) can do together for the common good. Unfortunately (fortunately?), there is a big TBR stack in my office as well as an excellent book that Anya got me for my birthday. So, I’m setting the Fate aside for now ……
Have you read this one yet? Are you inclined to check it out?
The Left-Handed Fate by Kate Milford
© 2016, Barbara. All rights reserved.