This was my third or fourth L.T. Meade book, and while they’ve all been good, this was exceptionally so. I truly couldn’t put it down. Bad little Hannah comes to life like few characters in childrens fiction then or now, or at any time in between. It is her inner turmoil that is so well and vividly presented: To be good or to be bad? That is the question eight year old Hannah struggles with on an almost daily basis. And we’re not talking about Anne Shirley-bad- that is, when Hannah is bad, she is not so much mischievous as she is willfully malicious. It was a surprise to find a book from the late 1890s with such a sharp edge to it, in the plot as well as in the dialogue.
There is a grim scene early on involving Hannah’s mother that could have been written today, as such things often appear in the news. Meade is not the best prose stylist in the world, but somehow it never matters. She is so good at drawing you into the story and the characters that the reader can easily overlook the books flaws and find herself giving a three or four star book five stars.One queer thing (to use one of Meades favorite words) is the cover of my copy of the book.
The artist evidently thought the main characters were teenagers, but they are not. Furthermore, there is an automobile pictured though not a single car appears in the book!