Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Pirate Apprentices and Young Adults
Being uprooted from your home and moving to a new country can ruin your life. At least that’s how twelve-year-old Lazare Berenger sees it and he blames his dad for doing so without any discussion. They’ve been arguing now for seven months, but Laz wildly lashes out while vacationing in Halifax, Canada. Out of control he runs off to explore the Citadel alone and let his anger ebb. Deep inside a tunnel under the fort that an ancestor once guarded during the American Revolution, he trips, falls, and blacks out.
When Laz awakens and emerges from the tunnel, Halifax has disappeared. Instead of a fort, there are only silhouettes of old sailing ships and an English sentry pointing a long-barreled rifle at him. Laz assumes this is an elaborately staged trick of his father’s to make him cease rebelling and behave. During his confrontation with British Captain Elijah Hawkins, however, he painfully discovers this is not a charade. The year is 1745 and Captain Hawkins believes him to be a French spy, not only because of how Laz pronounces his name and his ability to speak both French and English, but also because he wears a St. Christopher’s medal – a decoration only a Catholic would wear and the English are not Papists.
Laz believes his medal holds the key to getting back home, but Hawkins confiscates it. If Laz’s purpose is to learn more about the upcoming invasion of Louisbourg and take that information back to the French, he will hang as a spy. But there is one way to earn Hawkins’ trust and regain his medal – sneak into the fortified city of Louisbourg, cause mischief, and return to the ship. On the journey closer to where he will disembark, he makes both friends and enemies, one of whom will do his utmost to kill Laz simply because he’s French.
Sneaking ashore where the French will easily find him, getting to Louisbourg, and convincing the French that the English plan to attack turns out to be more difficult than Laz imagines. Only one officer takes him seriously. Port Commander Pierre Morpain not only listens and asks questions, he provides Laz with food, a place to shelter, and new clothes. Laz becomes his confidential messenger – a job that teaches him how to get around and introduces him to many citizens and soldiers. Before long, he can come and go as he pleases without arousing anyone’s curiosity. But the longer he’s among the French, the more he feels like he’s found a new home among friends the harder it becomes to betray them and Morpain, who treats him like a son.
Two Times a Traitor is a riveting time-slip adventure. From first page to last you are caught in the vortex that whisks him from the present back to the past. When the sword slices his hand or musket balls whiz by, you feel and hear both. His emotions become yours as he wends his way through dangerous actions and foreign places where he doesn’t know the rules, yet his life depends on knowing them. Bass vividly recreates past places and times and her characters, both good and bad, compel you to discover how Laz resolves the conflicts he faces as he matures from an immature youth to a teenager wise beyond his years. Beware: Putting the book down is near impossible. Nor is this book just for older children and young adults; adults will equally be enthralled with this historical novel that explores a period in Canadian history of which few Americans are aware. Once you begin to read, you soon discover why this highly recommended book was chosen as a 2017 Junior Library Guild selection and one of the Best Books for Kids & Teens for 2017.
Review Copyright ©2017 Cindy Vallar
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