Thursday, August 26, 2021

Between the Rack and a Stinky Moat: Could You Escape the Tower of London (An Interactive Survival Adventure) by Blake Hoena


You are about to step foot into one of the most famous fortresses in the world. It has served as a home to kings and queens, the United Kingdom's Royal Mint, a zoo, and even the crown jewels. And... it has housed prisoners who spent the rest of their lives behind its walls.

Even if you were not one Henry the Eighth's six wives, being imprisoned inside the White Tower of London was not where you would want to be.

Built as by the invading William the Conqueror from Norman France as a combination palace and invincible castle redoubt, The Tower was both a castle for the king and all-too-often a prison where he kept traitors to his rule and those who questioned what he considered the proper religion. Few were those who escaped from the TOWER! And kings came and went, some adding double walls and many other infamous towers--like the Bloody Tower and the Cradle Tower--and the famous gate towers--like The Traitors' Gate and the Coldharbour Gate.

Inside the King's servants kept watch and sometimes tortured prisoners on The Rack, which stretched their arms and legs until sometimes the bones broke. Many attempted escape, either by disguise or some sort of subterfuge, and some sent for help from friends who offered to assist in the escape. The most successful means involved grappling hooks and sliding down some sort of rope to be spirited away down the river by rescuing boatmen below. Some had to choose between swimming the wide and wild Thames River or the sewage-filled moat.

"The moat is shallower and much less dangerous. But the moat has its drawbacks. Human waste from the people living at the castle is often dumped into the moat. It will be a smelly stretch of water to swim across. The swim is not easy. Slick waste coats your clothing. You struggle to breathe because of the stench. But it is a short swim. And after climbing out on the other side you disappear into the night. You're free!


Blake Hoena's Could You Escape the Tower of London?: An Interactive Survival Adventure (You Choose: Can You Escape?) (Capstone Press, 2020) gives middle readers an opportunity to choose their escape from England's famous Tower of London, one of the great places to visit (and imagine clever escape ruses and routes) in Britain. With "three paths, 35 choices, and 18 possible endings" and plenty of illustrations to help young readers visualize the exterior and interior of the Tower (and sympathize with Henry VIII's three beheaded queens and the others who died there) this series provides thrills and chills, along with plenty of informative backmatter with a timeline, accounts of several successful and unsuccessful escapes, a bibliography and list of internet sites, and an index to round out a book report or class project.

Other books in this interactive adventure series are Could You Escape the Paris Catacombs?: An Interactive Survival Adventure (You Choose: Can You Escape?) and Could You Escape the Paris Catacombs?: An Interactive Survival Adventure (You Choose: Can You Escape?).

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