Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Children's Fiction Europe

Search of the Moon King's Daughter

by (author) Linda Holeman

Initial publish date
Sep 2003
Europe, Emotions & Feelings, Siblings
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2003
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 10 to 18
  • Grade: 5 to 12


Included in one of the 2004 YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults lists
Nominated for the White Pine Reading Program of the Durham District School Board

Gentle Emmaline loves nothing more than books and flowers and her little brother Tommy. Sadly, her idyllic country life in Victorian England comes to an abrupt end when her father dies of cholera. The family is forced to move to a mill town, where Emmaline’s mother is dreadfully injured in a factory accident. To ease her pain she takes laudanum and is soon addicted, craving the drug so badly that she sells Tommy into servitude as a chimney sweep in London. Emmaline knows that a sweep’s life is short and awful. Small boys as young as five are forced to climb naked into dark chimneys, their bare feet prodded by nail-studded sticks to keep them working. If Tommy is to survive, it is up to Emmaline to find him.

Linda Holeman brings a bygone period to life in a book of serious historical fiction for young adults.

About the author

Linda Holeman started writing in 1990 and has since then been prolific. She has written twelve works of fiction, for adults and young people. She has also written a novel for children, Frankie on the Run.

Linda's young adult novel Promise Song had roaring success in 1998: selected for the 1998 Books for the Teen Age by the New York Public Library, finalist for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People, short-listed by the McNally-Robinson Book of the Year Award, short-listed for the Ontario Library Association Red Maple Award, Choice of the Canadian Childrens Book Centre. Her first collection of stories for adults, Flying to Yellow, came out with Turnstone Press in 1996; one of the stories, `Turning the Worm,` was selected for the Journey Prize Anthology. To date, Linda's work has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Greek, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish.

She has travelled widely, and her past careers include a huge range -- from dairy worker to a decade of teaching. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Linda Holeman's profile page

Excerpt: Search of the Moon King's Daughter (by (author) Linda Holeman)

Emmaline’s life changed in the moment her needle finished the last golden loop of the embroidered apple on the cuff of a blue watered-silk gown. All she was thinking of was the oatcake, the sweet taste of it flooding her mouth.…


It was February 2 – Candlemas – although the day of festivity was like any other for Emmaline. She had promised Tommy she’d buy oatcakes on her way home from work, a small treat to mark the day of celebration. But long before finishing time, Fanny Shoesmith arrived with her message: “Emmaline! Emmaline, you’re to come quickly.”

Emmaline stood, the dress in her lap falling into a heap on the floor. The scrawny girl panted in the doorway of the sewing room, while a heavyset woman, her arms crossed over her broad chest, stood beside her.

“What is it, Fanny?” Emmaline asked, staring at the girl. “Is it our Tommy? Has something happened?”

“No. ’Tis Cat, Emmy. Your mother’s been hurt bad.” The words came out in gasps as Fanny tried to catch her breath. “I’ve been sent from the mill to fetch you. The overlooker wants your mother out and she can’t walk on her own and she’s calling for you. She won’t let anyone else near her.”

As Emmaline approached the door, the woman gripped Emmaline’s forearm. The movement made the nest of keys hanging from her thick waist jingle cheerily, the sound a sharp contrast to the scowl on her face.

“You get back to work,” she said, gesturing with her chin toward the pool of blue silk on the floor. “You’re not going anywhere. Not until your day’s work is done.”

Emmaline wrenched her arm from the woman’s grasp, sending the keys dancing. She grabbed her shawl from the hook beside the door. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Brill, but I’ve got to go to my mother. You heard. She’s been hurt.”

Mrs. Brill’s heavy eyelids lowered, and she gave a sniff. “How do I know this to be true?”

Fanny bobbed at the woman. Her tongue – gray and slightly furry – darted out to lick her dry lips. There was the beginning of a sore at the corner of her mouth. “Beggin’ your pardon, Missus, but it’s true. I seen it with me own eyes. Terrible, ’tis. Blood everywhere.” There was an unmistakable gleam of excitement in her eyes. “An’ her hand – oh, it’s crushed to near a pulp, so ’tis, as it were caught in the machine. I seen it with me own eyes,” she said again, the word “pulp” coming out louder than necessary. Fanny licked her lips a second time and pressed her own narrow hand to her throat.

As Emmaline brushed past Fanny, color flushed high on Mrs. Brill’s doughy cheeks. “Emmaline,” she called, striding after her. “You come back here. I haven’t given you permission to leave. Emmaline! I’ll tell your aunt!” But Emmaline was gone, running along the dim hall, away from the sewing room.

Mrs. Brill’s lips tightened. She looked down at Fanny, and then gave the girl a sudden thump on the side of the head with her knuckle.

“Ow,” Fanny whined, pulling her head away. “Weren’t my fault, Missus. I were only doing what I were told.”

“Be off with you,” Mrs. Brill said. “Go on back to the mill, you filthy urchin.”

“Yes, Missus,” Fanny answered, and turned and ran in the same direction as Emmaline. Something made her look back. Mrs. Brill stood in the doorway, watching her. “Pursy cow!” she said, making sure her voice was low enough that Mrs. Brill couldn’t hear.

And then Fanny ran on, away from the house, glad to be out in the fresh air. It had been raining earlier, but a weak sun now floated over the factory stacks. The February wind was cold, blowing through her patched dress. She hadn’t had time to grab her shawl when the overlooker had sent her to fetch Emmaline. She inhaled deeply, creating a frosty tingle in her nostrils, then blew a long steaming breath into the wintry air. For this unexpected moment life was good, away from the clattering din of the cotton mill for a brief time. She rubbed her head as she ran, partly to soothe the sharp stinging from Mrs. Brill’s knobbed knuckle, but also to will away the sound of Cat Roke’s quick, high, animal shrieks above the constant thrum of the spinning machines.

Poor Emmaline, Fanny thought. She liked Emmaline, for when she saw the older girl on the street outside the mill waiting for her mother, Emmaline always had time for her. Sometimes she told her wonderful stories from the books she read. No one had ever told Fanny a story before, and usually Fanny envied Emmaline, for not only could she read, she also had a home and family.

But now, for these few moments, and maybe the first time in her short life, Fanny was glad she lived in the mill dormitories, with only herself to fend for, and nothing but shadowy, confusing memories of family. Emmaline had a family, all right, but what a family: a mother who was more trouble than help and a scrawny little brother who couldn’t hear nor speak. And then there was the snobby aunt who allowed her own niece to be treated as little more than a drudge by that awful housekeeper, Mrs. Brill. Even though Emmaline, at fifteen, was two years older than Fanny, she had told Fanny that she was still paid as one of the lowest in the house, when by now she should be receiving wages as an assistant seamstress. And, she had confided to Fanny only the week before, she doubted that this would ever change.

Poor Emmaline, Fanny thought one more time, then slowed to a walk, allowing herself to be lost in the thought that there was someone with more cares than she had.


“Mother! Mother, what’s happened?” Emmaline gasped, rushing into the overlooker’s office, not even bothering to knock: something that might get her mother’s wages docked if the overlooker had a mind to punish her. She glanced at him, seeing anger on his thin sallow face. His oily hair brushed his collar, and he nervously fingered the polished button on his waistcoat.

Editorial Reviews

“The narrative moves swiftly…and builds to a satisfying conclusion…. Fans of historical fiction will be hooked.”
School Library Journal [starred review]

“Holeman vividly portrays the many contrasts of 1830s Victorian life…and creates an engaging, well-developed protagonist who exemplifies the power of determination and love…. Diverse supporting characters, drama, suspense, and a hint of romance round things out. A compelling story…”
“This gripping novel draws a shockingly realistic portrait of…19th century England.”
The White Ravens 2003, A Selection of International Children’s and Youth Literature
“Significant research and vivid imagery provide readers with an accurate and poignant image of England during its industrial coming-of-age.”
“…virtue finally triumphs over vice in this richly plotted Dickensian saga…”
The Horn Book Guide
“Holeman’s…[novel] is absolutely outstanding…. While the strong storyline and vivid characterizations are sufficiently compelling to provide this book with a ‘Highly Recommended’ rating, it is the period detail that Holeman seamlessly weaves into her plot that truly sets this book apart…. One of this year’s absolute ‘must’ purchases…”
CM Magazine

“…a powerful recreation of life in 1830s England…. Holeman packs a great deal of fascinating material into her moving portrait of the period.”
Quill & Quire
“…a welcome addition to the outstanding list of books [Linda Holeman] has written for young people… This novel is rich in historical detail… [T]een readers…will find Search of the Moon King’s Daughter immensely satisfying and engaging.”
Books In Canada
“This work does a good job of portraying the realities of life…in early nineteenth-century England…. In the classroom, this book could be used when discussing the social history of the nineteenth-century or the effects of the Industrial Revolution…”
Resource Links
“…[a] gripping historical novel…”
Toronto Star
“[Linda Holeman’s] exhaustive research and eye for detail help her to evoke the years 1830-36 with verisimilitude and to teach her readers – whether child or adult – a thing or two…. [This] is a book a young reader would be pleased to receive as a present. It is as entertaining as it is informative, possessing a great story…”
The Vancouver Sun
“This is great writing, and a consuming read.”
Brandon Sun
“This fine work of historical fiction navigates authentic emotional territory.”
Today’s Parent
“We see…the kind of wisdom with which great battles are fought and won, and admire the journey she embarks upon…. Search of the Moon King’s Daughter is ahead…by just a step or two.”
Star Phoenix

Other titles by Linda Holeman