The Silver Hand is set in the final months of World War I, and focuses on a young French girl, Aimee, and a German boy, Marius. Aimee lives on a farm in Bray with her mother, who is part of the spy network working with the British. Aimee overhears a conversation and unwittingly discovers a German spy in the midst of the British troops. From this time on her life is in danger as he is determined to silence her. Meanwhile she meets Marius who is too young to serve in the army, but is helping out the German troops with his knowledge of medicine, gleaned from his grandmother.
The flu breaks out amongst the German troops, and Marius’ help is invaluable with the sick troops. Marius begins an uneasy relationship with Aimee when the barn on their farm becomes a makeshift hospital for German troops. After several months Marius catches the flu himself, and when the German troops move on, he is left in Aimee and her mother’s care.
Aimee accompanies Marius when he is well enough to go home, as she is familiar with the route. It is felt two children travelling together would be unlikely to attract attention from troops on either side. However, not all goes to plan and the children are in constant danger from the traitor Aimee has exposed.
The story is based on historical events and real people, like Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron). While this added realism to the story, it also made it quite complicated as it was often hard to follow troop movements, with my limited geographical knowledge of France and Germany. A map would have helped.
The story is well-written and quite engaging, though their near escapes from death was a bit overdone. The author, Terry Deary, also explores the difficulties of making friends with someone who is supposed to be your enemy, but this could have been analysed a little deeper.
I wondered about the intended audience. From the cover Marius looks to be about 15 and Aimee 12. This fits the context of the characters in the story. However a reading age of 12 seems too young when the context is historical and quite violent.
Overall a good story, with some minor blemishes.
Thanks to Christian School Suppliers for providing a free book for review.Children's bookHistorical fictionSecularTerry DearyWorld War I