Books set in Late 19th C

The Apprentices

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Each story in the series tells of the life of an apprentice in Victorian London.

Enjoyably Dickensian stories of Victorian London. Some vulgarity, but offset by virtue in general.

Historical, Short

The Death Collector

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

George Archer finds himself under attack from a group who want the information in a diary of which he possesses the only remaining fragment.

Some grotesque scenes involving reanimation of men and animals by mechanical means. A fraudulent séance with a serious element. Possibly lethal violence used in self-defence by the protagonists.

Adventure, Macabre, SciFi

A Handful of Magic

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

In a parallel Victorian London, Kit Stixby is the magic-wielding son of the official Witch Doctor to Queen Victoria, while Kit is the best friend of the Queen's son Henry.

Imaginative and engaging children's adventure set in an alternative Victorian London. Mild magical aspects.

Adventure, Fantasy, Magic

House of Secrets

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Polly sets out as an inexperienced maid in the big household of Swallowcliffe Hall, trying to find her feet while helping friends, being helped by others, and trying to ignore the scorn of some more experienced maids.

Conventional upstairs-downstairs story. Friendship & scorn for a newcomer. Circumspect subplot about an illegitimate child and the suggestion that he be aborted.


A Little Princess

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Sara Crewe is sent to school in London by her father before he returns to India.

Classic riches-to-rags-to-riches story of a virtuous child, abandoned to the mild cruelties of grasping spinsters. Virtue is rewarded, vice is shamed, and large and well-to-do families are cheerful and welcoming.

Classic, Friendship, Girls, Historical

Little Women

Style: Classic

Attitude: Edifying

Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March are girls growing into young ladies in the late 19th century.

Classic, Girls

The Magician's Nephew

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Polly and Digory are tricked into travelling by Uncle Andrew's magic rings to other worlds.

A highly-readable fantasy story relating to Christian beliefs, especially about creation. Faintly avuncular in style. Magical elements.

Animal, Classic, Fantasy, Growing-Up, Magic

The Prisoner of Zenda

Style: Classic

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Erstwhile King Rudolf of Ruritania is drugged and then kidnapped the day before his coronation; his guards Sapt and Fritz happen upon Rudolf Rassendyll, an Englishman abroad, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the king, due to the king's ancestor's having fathered a child somewhere in the Rassendyll ancestry.

Swashbuckling adventure with a dashing hero, a bearded villain and a lovely heroine.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, Historical, Romantic

Red Leech

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

When Amyus and Mycroft become aware of the escape of John Wilkes Booth, whose assassination of President Lincoln has made him a rallying-point for a possible Confederate army, Sherlock takes matters into his own hands and tracks down where Booth is staying in Surrey and follows his accomplices when they take Matty hostage.

Disappointing if unproblematic historical adventure story. Some interesting ethical discussions based around Plato's Republic, but mostly a run-of-the-mill tale including a disfigured antagonist with a poolful of lethal reptiles. Some scary moments at the hands of the villains.

Detective, Historical

The Star of Kazan

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Annika, found by Sigrid and Ellie on a walking trip, is brought up by them in the house of the Professors, until Frau Edeltraut comes along and reveals that she is Annika's mother.

Heartwarming story of one girl's steadfastness in the face of deception and hardships, and the lengths her friends go to to help her.

Friendship, Historical

Three Men in a Boat

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

George, Harris and J are three rather lazy young men around the turn of the century.

Classic, Humorous

Tuck Everlasting

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The over-protected eleven-year-old Winnie Foster loses her patience and runs away into the woods next to her house where she meets seventeen-year-old Jesse Tuck drinking from a water spring.

A brief but deeply philosophical fantasy that explores the nature of life, change, death and immortality.

Classic, Fantasy, Historical, Thought-provoking


Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Wendy Darling, an inquisitive but innocent girl, learns more and more about the adult world as her family goes through difficult times.

Coping with, Family, Growing-Up