Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book Review: Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein

Pages: 336
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: October 12, 2010
My Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "The greatest unsolved mystery of American history--what happened to all the colonists who landed on Roanoke Island in 1587? This novel traces the fortunes and misfortunes of one Cate Archer, banished to Virginia by a jealous Queen Elizabeth because of her dalliance with Sir Walter Ralegh. What will be her fate in this dangerous New World?"

Lady Catherine Archer, the outspoken protagonist, finds herself an orphan after her father dies fighting in the Netherlands, but since her father so dutifully served the Queen, Queen Elizabeth takes makes Catherine one of her court maidens.  As time goes by, Lady Catherine learns the rules of court life and Queen Elizabeth even favors her at one point until Sir Walter Ralegh (his name was spelled this way back then) enters the picture.  Sir Walter, one of the Queen's favorites, starts to show attention towards Lady Catherine and she feels something towards him even though she knows it's a bad idea as this will make the Queen extremely upset.  Since the Queen sees and knows all, she finds out about Lady Catherine and Sir Walter Ralegh's blossoming romance and in a fit of jealous rage, banishes Catherine to Roanoke Island, which is part of the "New World."  From that point on, Catherine's life is changed forever and she's sure she will never seen Sir Walter again, let along survive in Virginia with the Native Americans.

Klein keeps this novel interesting by switching up the point of view between Catherine, Sir Walter, and a Native American named Manteo, whom Cate and the other colonists rely on. The varying points of view kept the plot flowing, but I had a hard time dealing with Sir Walter's narratives.  Not only does he fancy himself a poet, which drove me nuts, I also found his character to be vain and insufferable. Perhaps that was Klein's intent, but because of this, I couldn't quite connect or sympathize with him.  On the other hand, I really enjoyed the character of Catherine or as she likes to go by Cate once in the New World.  She was spunky, honest, and independent, which I really liked; she was truly before her time and a character modern readers could easily relate to.  There is a bit of a love triangle in this novel, which was a nice touch by Klein and I found it to be one of the most entertaining pieces to the novel.

I think the mystery surrounding the Roanoke colonists is extremely fascinating and Klein mixed the right amount of fact and fiction. At the end of the novel, she explains what went into researching the novel and where to find more information if you are interested.  I think high school students studying the colonists would find this novel to be especially thought provoking as it would tie in perfectly with the curriculum.  One of the biggest mysteries in American history is the fate of the Roanoke colonists and Klein presents a really captivating possibility with facts to back it up.  If I were teaching an American Studies course, I would absolutely make this book part of an extension assignment as it really gives the reader a lot to think about.

All in all, this was an enjoyable read despite Ralegh's attempts at poetry. Sorry, I know he is a celebrated poet, I'm just not a fan.  The character of Cate truly makes this story worthwhile.  Fans of historical fiction will love to try and figure out the fate of the Roanoke colonists and I'm sure they will be enthralled by Klein's compelling rendition.  


  1. Haha, I'd imagine Realgh is annoying.. Curious if he plays a big role though. Have this on my TBR list!

  2. Wonderful review, Christina! I love history and mysteries and this sounds like such a great novel(even if Sir Walter was annoying).

  3. Oh, Sir Walter Ralegh even his name sounds vain and poetic. He definitely sounds like quite the character. This book sounds really interesting. I'll have to keep it in mind. Great review!

  4. Thanks for the comments, guys! I hope you get to pick up this book soon.


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