The Poppy and the Rose

Owl Hollow. Oct. 2020. 322p. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781945654640.
Gr 8 Up–Modern-day American reporter Taylor Romano travels to Oxford for a journalism program and meets the mysterious Lady Maebeline Knight, who promises to share information about Taylor’s deceased father, indicating in a letter that all is not what it seems. Lady Maebeline dies before sharing more information, sending Taylor on a quest to decipher how the diary of a Titanic survivor—budding photographer Ava Knight—connects to the supernatural mystery of her father. While Taylor and Ava never meet, readers must connect the clues to determine how Maebeline ties into both of their stories. The narrative is told in alternating viewpoints between Taylor and Ava, and multiple plot threads will draw readers in. However, those expecting a traditional historical novel about the Titanic may be in for a surprise. The resolution of the novel is satisfying even if it’s not happy for all characters. Cowles peppers literary, pop culture, and historical references (Ava encounters the famed Haitian engineer Joseph Phillippe Lemercer Laroche on the Titanic) throughout. Ava is described as Black Irish with a “golden skin tone” while Taylor’s ethnicity is not clearly stated. The supporting cast is from a variety of backgrounds, including Indian and Serbian characters.
VERDICT Titanic meets Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys in this historical magical realism mystery. Best suited for readers who have patience, enjoy multiple points of view, and can keep track of multiple timelines.

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