Tudor England is a place of ancient beliefs and modern ideas, but it is also somewhere that young women still find inhibits their freedom. The main element of the plot takes place in the year of 1592, towards the end of Elizabeth I’s reign. It centres on the heroine Ruth, the daughter of an Earl and the strange events she encounters at her country home. However we also have references back to a period 50 years before, when her grandfather was a boy and Henry VIII was on the throne, it was also a time when science was beginning to question the view that the sun rotated around the earth. It is this heresy that Ruth finds in an old book and which lead her to question the world as she knows it. But Ruth also has to cope with the real world; she has an absent father, a less than loving stepmother and the threat of marriage to an unknown suitor. However Ruth has a growing friendship with Silas, who works on the estate and she wants to have more freedom to decide her fate. When she starts having strange dreams it seems vital that she learns their meaning, but things become even more desperate as children start to disappear from the local village.
This is a wonderfully mystical story contrasted with the very real issues surrounding young girls, especially from wealthy families, during the Elizabethan period. There is a real sense of time and place in the main setting and the frustration that Ruth feels is very plain for all to see. The magical side of the story creeps up on us and is quite chilling in what is happening; the idea that someone is stealing our dreams and eventually the person themselves is truly frightening. This is very much about the idea of personal identity and having the ability to decide what you want to do with your life. The relationships within the family are well described, with Ruth being reminded that she is as much a part of her father’s estate as the furniture or the buildings. Overall this is a thought provoking and disturbing story, which keeps you enthralled until the very end.