Sent to a convent on the Welsh Coast during the Blitz, a teenage girl finds herself on the run and afraid for her life–from the scarred, terrifying Mother Superior.
I am hoping that Alex McAulay is planning a follow-up to Shelter Me, because while he wrapped up the plot quite well, I certainly did not feel I was done with Maggie’s story. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that where she winds up at the end is just as tantalizing as anything that comes before.
It’s not for nothing that Maggie keeps herself occupied on her long train ride from London to Wales with a copy of Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca. The headmistress of the Gothic’s influences are all over Shelter Me, though the plot has more in common with the lesser know and twice as scary Jamaica Inn. Storm-lashed rocky coast–check. Smugglers–check. Beseiged pseudo-orphan–check. Subbing Wales for DuMaurier’s Cornwall, McAulay hits all the genre’s notes extremely well and even manages to conjure up a believable female protagonist.
I really like when YA authors step outside of the dominant modes of realism or popcorn serials. Like Laurie Halse Anderson in Chains, McAulay writes historical fiction that feels fresh and urgent, and is likely to inspire readers to want to learn more about the time period. He’s not after goals as lofty as Anderson is, but he’s done his homework and brings the Blitz to life. I’m very glad that I got to check this one out and looking forward to discussing it with other readers.