In my quest to re-read this entire series, one of my absolute favourite historical fiction series and the subject of my obsession a couple of years ago, it was time to tackle the second book. I remembered this book not as one of my favourites but just one I was required to get to in order to read my personal favourite the third book. However, on re-reading this I realised just how hilarious this book really is. I absolutely adore the way Julia Golding writes dialogue – and I particularly love how dialect is used to distinguish the characters from each other – and there were various scenes in this book that I’d forgotten about that had me giggling out loud and wondering how the heck I’d forgotten about them. The setting of Georgian London is so vibrant and vivid that it’s so easy to immerse yourself in the story and the characters. I also love that while the majority of the events are fictional there are threads of historical accuracy running through the book. And there are so many things to be gathered from the title about the character of Cat that I just can’t fault it.
The second episode in the Cat Royal adventure series plunges readers into the underbelly of London in a mission for justice. Pedro’s old slave master wants him back, but his friends on Drury Lane won’t give him up without a fight. Disguised as a boy, Cat enters an aristocratic boarding school and scales the heights of London society before joining a street gang to probe its depths, all to secure the freedom of her friend. This book features mysteries, theatrical spectacles, the evil Billy “Boil” Shepherd, and, of course, the irrepressible Cat, who never fails to stir up trouble and save the day wherever she goes.
The main thing that stands out about this book to me, and a few other books in the series too, is that it uses a historical event or events and uses them for a backdrop of the story. So not only does this book teach you about the Abolition of Slavery and introduce you to some of real historical figures who played a part in it, it also gives you a chance to get to know these fictional characters that Julia Golding has created. And what characters they are. They are all so diverse and unique and it really does give a great flavour of all the figures that you would come across in typical Georgian London. I especially like how Golding uses dialogue to distinguish the different classes, professions and genders because it shows just how segregated things were. And the banter between the characters is just genius – I forgot just how funny this book is in general. And I need more books about the exploits of Charlie and Frank with Lizzie looking on disapprovingly but secretly loving it.
I know that this book is probably aimed at a slightly younger audience but I still found myself being swept away by the characters and the plot, despite having read the book once before. And while the plot may clean up a tad bit too nicely and easily for my liking, and there a few scenes that do border on being slightly unrealistic and too cheesy, I still didn’t find any glaring issues with the over arcing story which I thought I might do, looking back on it with a more mature set of eyes. I do think that sometimes the characters can be a tad two-dimensional; they are all portrayed as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and sometimes it’s nice to have a little overlap just to make the characters more interesting. But, yet again, this book is aimed at young teens.
Overall, this book was incredibly enjoyable and entertaining and I absolutely flew through it in a matter of days. I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars because it was a fun and engaging read with some fantastic world-building and dialogue between the characters.