3 out of 4 stars
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The Jug and Hare Bathhouse is an intriguing and a suspenseful historical fiction novel and the first in The Master Harry Series created by Graham Williams.
Harry just turns sixteen. His master and benefactor, Dutch merchant and trader, Jorne, gives him some coins, to spend as he wishes, on his very special day. Naturally, he spends them on a new pair of boots, doublet, and the last of the winter fair on the river Thames, with his best friend, Thomas.
However, though they, undoubtedly, enjoy the play by William Shakespeare at the Rose Theater, a good meal, and large tankards of beer, they also witness unpleasant sights including a small girl being chased for stealing an apple and the impaled heads on iron spikes, in addition to a pamphlet about the growing number of dead peasant children.
Not so long after that, Harry finds himself before Constable Richard York. The constable is asking for his help in getting proof that a house, belonging to someone in the King’s court, is associated with buying and selling of young boys for sex.
The book has ten chapters and is told, for the most part, in the first-person perspective of Harry. The author begins by introducing each character including his short but sufficient backstory. Though the subject of the story is far from unique, the depiction of the social and political norms of the specified period makes the book interesting and intriguing. The author does a great job in describing the city of London at the time of King James: the market, the theater, the inns, the taverns, the bathhouses, and the London Bridge. Moreover, the book portrays the plight of orphaned children at the time.
The author creates endearing characters including Master Jorne, Physician Alan, Constable York, and young Harry, himself. Of all the admirable characters, I like Master Jorne the most. He is kind, compassionate, and fair. Despite his wealth and status, he treats people well and extends the same amount of respect to everyone regardless of age and class. Finally, for a first book in a series, I find the ending conclusive, hence, satisfying.
This is an enjoyable book. It is about love, friendship, and justice. It is also about homosexuality, physical and sexual abuse, and poverty. The part I like most is the depiction of family as not being those who are related with you in blood, but rather the people who love you, who care about you, and who accept you no matter what and who you are.
However, some readers may find the slow pacing at the beginning of the book a bit off-putting, as the suspense and the excitement begin almost halfway. Moreover, the sudden shift of narration from first-person to third-person point-of-view, in some scenes, may confuse some readers. Furthermore, readers not too keen on homosexual relationships may not find this book to their liking. Finally, there are several noticeable errors within the entire book (like Who’s house instead of Whose house and Harrys father instead of Harry’s father).
I, therefore, rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is interesting and intriguing. I recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fiction. Some scenes of abuse, however, may not be suitable for young readers.
Thee Jug and Hare Bathhouse
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