When I first bought my kindle, I wanted some books on it, but I didn’t want to pay for them (since I had just spent a bunch on the kindle). I was going through the free book list on kindle, and I saw some books by one of my favorite childhood authors, Frances Hodgson Burnett. Of course, I grabbed The Secret Garden, just to have it, but I also downloaded a book of hers that I had not yet read, The Lost Prince. (It’s still available for free on kindle, by the way.)
The main character, Marco, is a boy (early teens) who lives with his father in a poor area of London. The pair is in exile from their home country, Samavia, which is in political turmoil. Marco’s father, Stefan, has raised him to be a patriot, even though Marco has never been to Samavia. Marco meets and befriends a crippled boy known only as “The Rat.” Together, the two boys imagine fighting for Samavia and concoct intricate plots involving restoring The Lost Prince, a mythical figure who is the rightful heir to the throne of Samavia.
By now you have probably guessed the “big surprise” of the book. Nonetheless, I’ll continue the review. It is impossible for me to review this book other than with reference to Burnett’s other, better-known books that I loved as a child: The Secret Garden, Little Lord Fauntleroy, and A Little Princess. The common theme of these books is a child in wretched circumstances who, by the end of the book, is in a situation better than could have ever been imagined by anyone anywhere. This book follows that same pattern. The difference is first that there is no suspense whatever. Second, the children in her more popular books (at least the girls) grow through their difficulties. Marco is perfect throughout the book, so he isn’t very interesting. The Rat is much more interesting, but he is never allowed to be more than a supporting character.