Lloyd Alexander’s Westmark trilogy — which takes place in a pseudo-historical alternative to Revolution-era France — comes to a middling close with The Beggar Queen. But perhaps that’s too harsh. Much like the previous book, The Kestrel, The Beggar Queen isn’t bad. But it toes the line between being palatable for kids and delving into the horrors and brutality of war. Alexander can’t make up his mind which way to go, and so it ends up just being a bit meh and all over the place. Towards the end, it feels like Alexander has even become bored with his own story, and so stuff just starts happening and resolving in a fairly perfunctory manner. I do realize that my assessment may be due to being a 47-year-old. If I’d read this as a 12-year-old, then I could easily see how it would’ve felt so “adult,” and thus, so much better than all of that other “kids’ stuff” I’d been reading. Indeed, my biggest regret with the Westmark novels is probably that I didn’t read them as a 5th or 6th grader first.