Warning: This is a PG book review.
Emmaline, the strong and almost believable protagonist, carries an incredibly heavy load in Linda Holeman’s Search of the Moon King’s Daughter. The first half of this good-but-not-great book is all introduction and scene setting. We learn about the ever-darkening circumstances of Emmaline’s young life.
Her mother, Cat, is a slut with addictive tendencies while her father, Jasper, is blinded by his love for her mother and can see none of his wife’s faults. Furthermore, he has no work ethic and too soft a heart. Because he is nothing but fun, games and poetry-spouting, her father is the light of Emmaline’s life until he dies not long after Cat has birth to a boy, Tommy. Cat, Emmaline and Tommy are left with nothing when Tom comes down with what sounds like meningitis. This brain-fever combined with a solid smacking across the room by mother leaves baby Tommy a deaf mute. When Cat’s whoring doesn’t bringing enough money or respectability to maintain the shop that Jasper didn’t work very at keeping, they are evicted. What to do? Well, Daddy’s rich sister lives in the local city and has in the past offered to help. Let’s all go to the city! Cat gets work in a mill, but is soon mangled in a machine. To soothe her pain, she is given opium and soon becomes addicted. Em works for her aunt as a seamstress. Auntie Bitch soon recognizes Emmaline’s fine qualities and offers to adopt her, but wants nothing to do with Cat or little Tom. Since there is no way in hell Emmaline is leaving her beloved brother behind (and she is duty-bound to her selfish, slutty, druggie of a mother), Em turns down the adoption offer. Of course, her aunt doesn’t take Em’s refusal well and begins to treat her more and more poorly. Coming home hungry and tired, one day, Em finds that Cat has sold little Tommy to a chimney sweep for drugs. Emmaline, naturally, runs away to London to find her brother. When arriving there, she goes into service and (finally!) begins the search alluded to in the title of the book.
This book was an interesting and informative portrayal of the life in the lower and middle classes in the mid 1800s in industrialized Britain. But it really dragged on. Seriously the above summary of the first half of the book is longer than many of my reviews. Emmaline is rather pertinacious, a little too patient and forgiving to be completely believable and has a bit of a hero-complex, but I liked her. I found the ending unlikely but better to end anyway rather than drag it on any further. I really can neither recommend nor discourage anyone from reading this book.