The Plague by Joanne Dahme (published by Running Press, May 4, 2009)
Nell and her younger brother George lost their parents to the plague in London, and were only rescued from the fate of being left orphaned and alone in the devastated city by chance. King Edward was traveling through the city to view the devastation of the plague for himself, and happened to notice Nell, who had a strong resemblance to his own daughter, Princess Joan. He decided to rescue the children and bring them to his castle so that Nell could be a companion and double for the princess.
Now, two years later, in 1348, fifteen-year-old Nell and nine-year-old George are accompanying the princess on her journey to marry Prince Pedro of Castile. Also along for the journey is the princess's sinister older brother, the Black Prince, who frightens Nell. At the start of the sea voyage, they hear rumors that the plague has returned, and upon their arrival at Bordeaux, they discover the rumors to be truth. When Princess Joan dies of the plague, the Black Prince decides that Nell, as the princess's look-a-like, must take her place so the political marriage can occur as planned. Nell knows that this deception cannot end well and is determined to run away with George and make her way back to England and the King to tell the truth of what happened. Her escape through the plague-stricken countryside is full of peril, and she is not sure which of her unlikely allies she can truly trust.
The Plague is an exciting and interesting historical novel that brings to life the plague of 1348, now known as the Black Death, which devastated Europe but which is little-written about for young adults. Although some of the events in the story seemed implausible at times, overall it was a gripping and enjoyable read that I would recommend for readers who enjoy young adult historical fiction. One thing I would have liked to have seen is a historical note about some of the real places, events, and people featured in the story, since many are not well-known to the average reader that would read this book.