Young Adult book review of Petals in the Ashes by Mary Hooper
This gripping account of London’s Great Fire of 1666 is a worthy companion to At the Sign of the Sugared Plum. Only one year after the city suffered such terrible losses during the Plague, London is recovering and Hannah convinces her parents that, with her younger sister Anne’s help, she can return to the city and manage the sweetmeats shop on her own. The girls are thrilled to be back in London, and Hannah even finds her old beau, Tom, alive and well and working for a magician. But her newfound happiness is short-lived as fires begin to spring up around the city and quickly move closer to their shop. Finally, Hannah and Anne are forced to abandon their home to save their lives. When the fires have abated, the girls return to find their shop in ruins. They also find Tom, beaten and injured after being chased by a mob that blamed the magician for starting the fire. Despite their losses, Hannah is sure that one day she will rebuild her shop and once again trade under the sign of the sugared plum.
My Thoughts after Reading
This young YA book is set in the mid-1660s. It is a direct continuation from Book 1, At the Sign of the Sugared Plum. For continuity, I recommend readers to read this straight after you have read the first book. The book blurb suggests the story is about the Great Fire of 1666, but the start of the story ties up the ends of the previous book.
In our last book the heroines have escaped the clutches of London’s plague. They journey to Dorchester to deliver the baby orphan girl To her aristocrat aunt. Eventually Hannah makes the decision to return to London without her older sister, but takes her younger sister along instead. Hence at the fresh start in London it was reminiscent of the first book, except this time round Hannah is the teacher.
The book give a good insight into the lives in London as they emerge from the depths of the Great Plague. When the fire came, the author has skilfully brought the reader right into the midst of the trauma and mayhem. You feel as if you were there when it happened, and the great loss afterwards.
A good read. 3/5