The Adventures Of Hayden And Nikki: The Meeting, by Adrianna M. Lockhart
Anytime a young man in his early thirties presumes to review a novel by a young woman approaching her teenage years, some explanation is required. I first met the author when she was a three year old “mascot” of my class at the Ambassador Bible Center (along with her slightly younger brother), where her parents and I attended. Though I have not seen much of her since then, I have kept in touch with her family, and their knowledge of my voracious book reading and reviewing habits led them to send a copy of the author’s debut novel my way. And so, I review this book written by a tween about tweens (and early teenagers) for tweens.
Fairly quickly upon reading this novel (which is the first novel in a series, and ends on a cliffhanger that clearly promises at least another novel or two of action), the general outlines of this tale begin to become plain. At its heart, this novel lives up to its name, taking about halfway for the lead characters, Crown Prince Hayden Alexander Calhoun the Fourteenth and Nicole, a country girl who is the granddaughter of a legendary knight of the Kingdom of Calhoun (presumably a nod to the proud Scottish heritage of the author and her family). Although the back cover of the book states that Nikki is a peasant, that is not strictly the case, as her family is at least somewhat well off and her family is a member of the lesser nobility, high enough on the social scale to receive a friendly invitation to the royal castle as well as an unfriendly invitation to the royal jail when suspected of harboring a fugitive.
Both the characters as well as the author of this book appear to be very well-read. For example, there are some references to Latin within the text, and also a text named Rosati that appears to be highly important within the fictional world given the amount of times it is referred to in the text. This book, though an original tale in an original world, has nearly equally divided first person point-of-view chapters between Nikki and Hayden of the kind that one finds in George Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series or the historical novels of the Shaara family. Likewise, there are hints of Shakespeare in this book, both in the fact that its heroine attempts (like Viola in Twelfth Night) to pass herself off as a boy, and in the Hamlet-like atmosphere of the royal castle and its murderous intrigues. There are also hints of C.S. Lewis in this novel, including the hidden prince  aspect of the story and the bravery and spunk of its heroine (who reminds one of the heroine of A Horse And His Boy). This immense and rich level of inspiration suggests a promising career ahead as a writer if Miss Lockhart wishes to continue to practice her craft.
Although this is a vastly more sanguine and optimistic novel than I could ever imagine myself writing, and far more optimistic than my writing was at the author’s age, this is a novel of some seriousness. This, like some other novels I have read recently , is about children in peril. The novel reveals a love of adventure, a trust in the loyalty of friends, and a remarkably egalitarian mindset that makes this somewhat of a feminist novel for young people, which ought to be greatly appreciated by adventuresome young women like the author herself, and more than a few fair-minded young men as well who share her love of historical fantasy. The novel deals with life and death issues with a sense of realism, and show the concern that young people often face of dealing with the dangers and threats of the adult world while not being corrupted or taken advantage of, a serious concern. Minor quibbles such as the need to develop some of its minor characters (including the villainous uncle of the crown prince) or add page numbers are not significant drawbacks, as this is a very excellent book that a wide audience of young people should appreciate, and perhaps attempt to emulate.
More information about the book and its author can be found at http://www.adriannalockhart.com.