A journey from England to China for a rare flower... The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller (Review)

The Forbidden OrchidThe Forbidden Orchid
by Sharon Biggs Waller
YA Historical
Hardcover, ebook & audiobook, 432 Pages
March 8th 2016 by Viking


Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters living in a small English market town in 1861. The girls' father is a plant hunter, usually off adventuring through the jungles of China.

Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan fails to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid, meaning that he will be thrown into debtors' prison and the girls will be sent to the orphanage or the poorhouse. Elodie's father has one last chance to return to China, find the orchid, and save the family—and this time, thanks to an unforeseen twist of fate, Elodie is going with him. Elodie has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China.

But even if she can find the orchid, how can she find herself now that staid, responsible Elodie has seen how much the world has to offer?

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My Review

THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID isn't your usual historical YA set in England. The story isn't set among the gentry, there are no balls full of dancing and no courtship or witty dialogue. Instead there is a house full of women in a small town, adventure and danger on board a ship and on foreign lands in China, flower extractions, and a heartbreakingly sweet romance. It's the type of story for those who enjoy a slower pace, a little bit of an emotional roller coaster, an interesting heroine, and a romance to cheer for. 

Elodie is an intelligent, head-strong, naive, curious girl. She's also very caring and responsible as she tries to keep her family safe and cared for in her father's absence. Her father is a very interesting character with a profession as a plant hunter with some secrets. Alex was a fun character. He has a quiet strength and charm that is a perfect counter to Elodie. I liked how the relationships developed and changed over the course of the story.

The story has a journal-like feel as you read. It's told in first person with parts that catalog how time passes or the journey. Some of it didn't always hold my attention. Some parts were pretty sad, such as the opium addicts and other forms of slavery that were fairly descriptive. There were topics covered that I haven't seen covered before in other fictional stories and I felt the author did fairly well in showing the situation without allowing it to take over the story or become too dark. There was some humor to liven things up, some of it crude. My favorite part was the end and how things turned out.

Overall, a likable read. I'm curious to see what topics this author tackles in the future.

Content: Some crude and blunt humor and descriptions, some innuendo, some violence, some suggestive content in regard to drugs and prostitution.

Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through a tour host for the purposes of an honest review, which did not affect my review in any way.

You can check out my interview with the author and enter a giveaway from my tour stop here. I'm curious... What is your favorite flower?

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