The Palace Library by Steven Loveridge is a children’s novel suitable for middle school aged readers.
It is quite simply a magical novel that treats children as children and has them engage in age appropriate activities for the time period in which the novel occurs. The ties to the Chronicles of Narnia are strong and the author was clearly influenced but that in no way takes away from the writing or the characters.
There are three main protagonists, Harry, Eleanor, and Grace, and each has their own place and role within the setting of the story. Drop any one child and the story would not have been nearly so magical. The author treats children as children, not little adults. In fact, more than once in the book they are called children by the adults. It was refreshing.
Yes the children drink mead and Harry smokes. They are appropriate activities for the time the story takes place, 1146 England, and the story itself. Nothing in this book would give me pause for concern as an adult recommending the book to a young reader. Exposing young readers to concepts and realities of the past will only make them better human beings.
Five out of five stars for a thoroughly enjoyable romp through one of my favorite eras of English history.