With the exciting upcoming release of Julia Golding’s new middle grade children’s fiction book, The Curious Crime, published by Lion Children’s Books, I’ve decided to make it Julia Golding Book Week! Over the course of this week I’ll be rereading and reviewing my all time favourite series by Julia Golding - Cat Royal’s Adventures! Kicking off with the first in the series, The Diamond of Drury Lane.
The Diamond of Drury Lane is the first book that kicks of the Cat Royal Adventures series and it’s a brilliant start to a brilliant series. Set in 1790s Covent Garden, London, The Diamond of Drury Lane tells the tale and adventures of Cat Royal - a red headed, curious, clever and cocky orphan, who lives in the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane. When Cat overhears the whispers that a diamond is hidden within the theatre she is given the job to protect it from any villains and dangers that lurk, particularly from the ruthless and nasty gang leader Billy Shepard. But, how can Cat keep the diamond safe when she doesn’t know what it is, or where it is. Together with the help of Pedro, a former slave boy, and her new aristocratic friends, Cat must use her grit, wit and intelligence to protect the diamond, even if it means putting her life in danger! Golding writes from the narrative perspective of Cat and does such a fantastic job of expressing the young heroines personality through her fiery tongue, use of slang and her ability to not be afraid to speak her mind. Her spirit, courage and determination is inspiring, and her loyalty to her friends, both royalty and street urchins alike is admiring. It was these characteristics that made Cat and this series so special to me as a child - I looked up to Cat and wanted nothing more than to join her on all her wild and wonderful adventures. Golding does such a fantastic job of capturing 18th century London. The story is full of nitty, gritty historical details and includes a slang term glossary and period map of London. Not to mention the authentic descriptions of London’s filthy alleyways and grimy marketplaces in contrast the luxury homes suited for the rich. Golding makes London our playground as much as Cat’s.
Besides being a great adventure, the book also raises key issues of gender, class and race, which make for great discussion starters.
The Cat Royal Adventures series is perfect for middle grade readers who aren’t yet ready to tackle the denser historical thrillers, like Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart Mysteries.
Book two of Cat Royals Adventures and it comes with more mysteries, more disguises and an epic fight for freedom! In Cat Among the Pigeons young feisty Cat emerges from the theatre into the underbelly of London in a mission to save her friend Pedro, a former slave turned violin prodigy from the grips of his old slave master. From infiltrating an aristocratic boarding school one moment to surviving the gritty streets of London the next, Cat will do whatever it takes to save the day and secure the freedom of her friend.
Like The Diamond of Drury Lane, Julia Golding uses historical events to create a backdrop for the story and in this book it’s the abolition of slavery that Golding further introduces us to. Golding does such a brilliant job of using dialogue and language to distinguish the different classes, genders and professions of her diverse and unique range of characters. Cat again is her same courageous, cocky and curious self and it’s wonderful to be able to grow alongside such an influential young protagonist. This is a great continuation to this fast-paced historical adventure series and is seasoned with the perfect amount of funny moments and suspenseful cliffhangers.
In Cat Royal’s third thrilling adventure, the Theatre Royal is closed for renovation which leaves Cat homeless and alone. But Cat soon finds herself traveling from London to Paris when her guardian commissions her to act as his spy and infiltrate the front line of the French Revolution. Disguised as a ballerina, Cat faces danger head on as she braves suitors, traitors and revolutionaries all in the fight for the freedom and the power of the people!
Cat remains her strong-willed, determined, stubborn self and in this book especially I formed such a strong emotional attachment to her. Julia captures the characteristics of Cat with such wit and wisdom that you can’t help but root, laugh and cry for Cat throughout the series. Cat’s a very special character and one I would definitely invite to my ‘imaginary’ dinner party if I could. Golding once again masters the setting, especially as she leaves the comfort and boundaries of London to explore the wonders of revolutionary Paris. Golding’s world building is so vivid and detailed that you can really imagine yourself being with Cat on her extraordinary adventures. A must read historical series for all!
There’s never a dull moment in this series as Julia Golding returns with the fourth instalment of Cat Royal’s Adventures in Cat O’nine Tails. Previously, Cat found herself disguised as a spy of the French Revolution, now, she’s an unlikely recruit for the British Navy. Captured and bound for the New World on board HMS Courageous, Cat may finally be in over her head as she’s faced by the cruel and manic Captain ‘Barmy’ Barton, and some very treacherous sailers. In order to survive and protect her friends, Cat must keep her head down and learn the ropes until her opportunity of escape arises when the ship lands in Georgia, America, to repair a broken mast. Golding isn’t afraid to explore all corners of the world as she takes Cat from elegant 18th century Bath to the horrors of life on the high seas to the wilds and wonders of America.
Golding captures her history, setting and characters with both detail and atmosphere and it is obvious of Golding’s thorough research. Golding delivers a sensitive portrayal of Native Americans whilst maintaining a fast and entertaining pace. I admire the worlds and adventures that Cat takes on even with danger constantly one step behind her but I can’t help and miss Cat’s original roots back in London and wonder how the rebuilding of Theatre Royal is going. Nevertheless it is charming and interesting to see the lessons and experiences Cat takes from each world and how this influences her growth and attitude.
Once again another gripping, funny and reasonably more dramatic adventure for Cat Royal. I can only wonder where Julia Golding might take us next...
We’re back with Cat Royal’s fifth adventure in the Black Heart of Jamaica. It’s 1792 and our heroine now finds herself sailing to Jamaica with a travelling theatre, turning pirate, undertaking a Caribbean Cruise, and getting mixed up in a slave revolt! Not to mention her run-in with Kingston Hawkins, Pedro’s former slave master. Hawkins is determined to make Cat pay and in doing so tricks her into becoming his ‘indentured servant’, thus forcing Cat to learn the hard way about the horrors of slavery. Golding definitely dives head first into this one - the issue of slavery is economically and emotionally complex but Golding gives an interesting and important interpretation of the slave rebellion. Whilst the plot was definitely one of Cat’s most outrageous adventure I did find the beginning a little slow and repetitive but Golding doesn’t fall short on her wit and wonder. Golding has done such a fantastic job of capturing her events and settings across this series - taking us from London to France, from America to Jamaica, all the while incorporating important messages and themes and issues throughout.
This is truly a series that enables your mind to travel the world from the comfort of your home. New characters are introduced and old favourites return but our feisty and fearless Cat stays the same as always - in fact, Cat reveals a much deeper layer through her mistakes and misjudgments in this book, which only makes her that more realistic and relatable. Entertaining as always, with the perfect amount of humour and historical reference on the side. Julia Golding has done it again!
Books published by Egmont.
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