Book Review: Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl

Prisoners in the Palace: How Princess Victoria became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel

A Novel of Intrigue and Romance

Michaela MacColl has blown me away. Once I started reading this book I didn’t want to put it down. Typically I’m not a big fan of historical fiction, but I may have just permanently changed my opinion of the genre after reading this book.

The writing is spectacular, the characters engaging, the story itself empowering. I love the way MacColl uses newspaper articles, journals and letters interspersed throughout the chapters to develop the storyline. There is a little bit of everything in this story: drama, deception, romance, suspense, irony, even humor. And the best part about it: a portion of the story is based in fact.

Liza, the protagonist, shares experiences that resonate with all young women, regardless of the era: a longing for family, acceptance, success and independence. I often found myself admiring her determination, especially when she was “out of her station” reprimanding or encouraging Victoria in ways that were much more woman to woman than servant to royalty.

Liza is supported by a cast of other intriguing and interesting characters, including Will, the young entrepreneur publishing his own news, Inside Boy (the aforementioned scoundrel), the Baroness Lehzen, Sir John Conroy and the Duchess, Victoria’s conniving mother. Most importantly, of course, Princess Victoria.

Learning about the life of the young Victoria, before she became Queen is a real treat. I never before imagined the circumstances leading up to her acceptance of the Crown. Although much of the story is fiction, Victoria’s story is largely based in fact, leaving the reader entertained with a grasp of the childhood history before she became Queen Victoria and set the standard for what would become the Victorian Era. 


Young Elizabeth Hastings knows about suffering. At seventeen, she has lost her family, her home and her future. In desperation, she takes a position at Kensington Palace working for the sixteen year old Princess Victoria. But nothing is as it seems at the palace. The heir to the throne is practically a prisoner. A mother schemes against her daughter. Sir John Conroy, a man with no power or connections, is playing for the ultimate prize. And the servants – they know everything of course!

Liza’s journey will take her through the bowels of the Palace and to the deepest slums of London. She’ll learn about the power of the press and the attractions of one particular newspaperman. How far will Liza have to go to restore her fortune and put the Princess Victoria on the throne? Will she find independence and romance or find herself a prisoner in the palace, too?

Check out Michaela MacColl’s website for more on Prisoners in the Palace.

Prisoners in the Palace is available now.

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