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- author Jackie French

Wednesday 7 June 2023

Review: The Key To Rome

Sophie Masson’s latest book, The Key to Rome, is an exciting, fast-paced adventure set in AD 84, and based on historical facts.

Twelve-year-old Livia’s father is dying. He entrusts to her something that was entrusted to him – a key which she promises to carry in secret to her uncle Marcus, who lives a day away on horseback. She is to stay and live with him and continue her father’s profession as an oculist, to which Livia has been well-trained. 

She sets out on this quest. But her uncle is an elusive entity. Everyone remains tight-lipped on his whereabouts and suspicion of a girl alone, brings scorn and disapproval.

She agrees to take Mato, a servant boy wanting to reach his dying mother, along as her assistant. Both headed in the same direction, it is safer, and Mato can take her where her uncle is said to be found.

Every area they pass is ravaged by war. Wary and poor, people keep their distance from the oculist, unless they need healing. This is paid with what food can be spared. 

The pair encounter threats of insurrection within people that seem trustworthy. How much do they divulge? Whom can they trust? 

What begins as simply two people heading in the same direction ends as a strong friendship. When Mato and Livia discover her uncle has been murdered, they must uncover why, and if her father’s key has anything to do with his death? 

Danger follows them wherever they go. Treachery and betrayal are taking place in the background as they search for truth. Nobody is what or who they seem.

This is a fantastic read, full of mystery and adventure about two children, each on an individual quest, intending to succeed in creating a life of value and meaning for their future.

There is an excellent map at the front depicting the areas the children travelled and an equally informative Glossary with a background of the history and  people, paces and terms.

Title: The Key to Rome
Author: Sophie Masson
Illustrator: Lorena Carrington
Publisher: Eagle Books, $19.99
Publication Date: 1 May 2023
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780645378856
For ages: 10 – 14
Type: Middle Grade Fiction