"Modern master of historical fiction" Amanda Craig, The Times
"It's always exciting to see a new novel by Celia Rees: she's one of those rare writers who are consistently excellent yet always surprising. In the recent past she's written about female pirates and female highwaymen, (Pirates and Sovay) and Mayan prophecies and suicide cults (The Stone Testament).
"Here she breaks more new ground: The Fool's Girl is a dark take on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. It's told in a number of different voices, and begins with Violetta, Viola's daughter, describing the sack of her city by Venetian and Uskok pirates led by none other than her own uncle Sebastian.
"In some ways, the book is a fascinating extension of the play. Rees explores the currents of cruelty, melancholy and madness flowing under the play's lyrical surface sparkle. It's a writer's business – a writer's delight – to ask 'what if…?' and spin a story out of it. So Rees asks: what if Viola and Olivia, whose faux courtship is so central to the play, actually did prefer one another to their oh-so-suitable husbands? What if Viola's twin brother Sebastian was jealous of his sister on two counts: for making a better marriage than himself and for stealing his wife Olivia's affections? What if cross-gartered Malvolio harboured a furious and lasting grudge against the merry crew who tricked and abused him? What if the ending wasn't happy-ever-after at all?"
Katherine Langrish, Seven Miles of Steel Thistles – also including an interview with Celia!
"I read two of Celia Rees' books last year and fell completely in love with her writing. I was extremely keen to read her latest book, The Fool's Girl. Once again Rees spins a fantastic adventure that brings history to life and has it jumping of the pages.
"Where Celia Rees absolutely excels is bringing history to life. Descriptions of sights, sounds and smells all create such imagery that for a while I actually was in seventeenth century London. She doesn't shy away from the grisly truth so at times the book is violent and slightly disturbing, especially in her descriptions of the fate of prisoners and betrayers. But this makes the book seem all the more authentic. Seventeenth century London wasn't the nicest of places after all, with the heads of criminals hanging from London Bridge and the lack of sanitation.
"Celia Rees remains one of my favourite authors, and The Fool's Girl does nothing to change that. I remember when reading the magnificence that is Witch Child, thinking how fantastically it would have tied in with studying The Crucible at school. I think the same applies with The Fool's Girl and Shakespeare, I'm fairly certain I would have found him more interesting had I read this book at that time. But The Fool's Girl is also a great book just to read for enjoyment. It's fast, it's gripping, and it's entertaining. I'd recommend this for anyone who enjoys an exciting historical novel, from aged 13 up, or as an introduction to this genre."
Rhiana, Rhiana Reads
"Celia Rees specialises in writing about strong, independent heroines, and Violetta certainly doesn't let the reader down there. She's continually brave, defiant in the face of danger, and ready to stand up for herself, her country and her friends. The supporting cast here is also really well-described – the mixture of fictional and real characters works well, and the historical figures always seem very believably written. Her description of Elizabethan times is also very good, and her depiction of Illyria – based on Croatia at that time, according to her acknowledgements – is excellent. "
Robet James, The Bookbag
"'I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you,' says Malvolio at the end of Twelfth Night. Celia Rees has taken this unresolved threat as an invitation and followed the characters – and their descendents – to London, where they meet Shakespeare and involve him in their story, provoking him, in turn, to write a play called Twelfth Night. It's a cunning way to structure a story, allowing Rees to have a lot of fun with the characters from the original play, using them as an inspiration while toying with the idea of who and what might have inspired Shakespeare."
Josh Lacey, The Guardian
"Violetta and the fool, Feste, take refuge in Tudor London after a usurper seizes her Illyrian throne. As street performers on Bankside, they attract the attention of one Master Shakespeare. Rees spins an elaborate tale that plays wittily upon the plot of Twelfth Night."
Suzi Feay, The Financial Times
"Overall it was a good book and Celia Rees is a fantastic author, and if you're into Shakespeare or Historical Fiction then you should check it out."
"Rees's use of figurative language is melodic and the authenticity of Elizabethan England was palpable - you really get a sense of place through this novel. I thought the ending was brilliant and unfolded in a spectacular fashion with constantly building dramatic tension."
Becky, The Bookette
"Celia Rees is offically one of my favourite authors… The Fool's Girl is brilleant, and extremely enjoyable."
Chloe, The Book Bug
"One good twist about the book was that there were several povs told in first person, then an overall narration told in third person. It might sound a bit confusing, but it worked smoothly for me. It means that the reader gets a complete picture of the story and can watch as various plot lines cross paths, tangle up, and eventually merge at the end of the story."
Nayuleska, Nayu's Reading Corner
"I'm tempted to say this is Celia's best novel, but I am very fond of her witch (understandably) and her pirates, so I can’t say that. But it's a close thing."
"Combining elements of fact and fiction, this will appeal to teenagers who are fans of Elizabethan history."
The Sweet Bonjour
"The lushly romantic story is very involving and always enjoyable, and it’s packed with wonderfully evocative details."
"Ambitious, clever and compelling . . . Rees’s imagination makes her gloriously unpredictable."
"A sophisticated, compelling novel about creativity, sexual ambiguity and cunning. It should be required reading for readers of 13+ studying the play."
"A sparkling, intelligent, well textured novel for younger teenagers of both sexes."
The Literary Review