A beautiful young aristocrat’s high adventure during the French Revolution
The Pale Assassin (Pimpernelles #1) by Patricia Elliott
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: November 2009
Publisher: Holiday House
Source: Publisher’s Review Copy
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Eugenie de Boncoeur is the beautiful daughter of a wealthy marquis. In spite of being an orphan, she and her brother have been well provided for and she’s lived a life filled with glittering parties and gorgeous, outrageously expensive clothing. Until the moment the French Revolution breaks out. In addition to her whole way of life being destroyed, she is horrified to discover that her guardian has promised her in marriage when she turns 16 to Le Fantome, the Pale Assassin. This shadowy, evil man has had a grudge against her father for many years, because the marquis humiliated him as punishment for cheating at cards.
This is an action-adventure historical novel with a heroine in the vein of Scarlett O’Hara, though with a less compelling goal. Unlike Scarlett, she is not seeking to save her home at any cost, rather to escape her awful would-be bridegroom and the violence against aristocrats in her war-torn country. The heroine encounters spies, revolutionaries and double-crossing suitors in her frantic journey across France.
Though the heroine starts out understandably spoiled from her life of privilege, she grows across the course of the book. For teens who have never read a historical novel, or who have read and enjoyed them, this book is a satisfying journey through a deadly period of history.
Historical World-Building: 5
Action-Adventure Plot: 5