Published: September 19th, 2017
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Reader
Genres: YA, Historical Fiction, Mystery
My Rating: 3.5
The year is 1818, the city is London, and 16-year-old Annis Whitworth has just learned that her father is dead and all his money is missing. And so, of course, she decides to become a spy.
Annis always suspected that her father was himself a spy, and following in his footsteps to unmask his killer makes perfect sense. Alas, it does not make sense to England’s current spymasters—not even when Annis reveals that she has the rare magical ability to sew glamours: garments that can disguise the wearer completely.
Well, if the spies are too pigheaded to take on a young woman of quality, then Annis will take them on. And so she crafts a new double life for herself. Miss Annis Whitworth will appear to live a quiet life in a country cottage with her aunt, and Annis-in-disguise as Madame Martine, glamour artist, will open a magical dressmaking shop. That way she can earn a living, maintain her social standing, and, in her spare time, follow the coded clues her father left behind and unmask his killer.
It can’t be any harder than navigating the London social season, can it?
I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGallery in exchange for an honest review.
I found this book a fun, quirky, light murder mystery. Not quite what I was expecting, but a very well written book with dynamic characters woven with a fun bit of magic with the back drop of war and a mysterious death.
I was expecting a little more murder, however, considering the books that I’ve been reading recently, the lighter feel of this book was a great change.
The narrator, Annis, is fun. She’s a high society London girl in the early 1800’s. She comes across as materialist rich girl, which I’m pretty sure is the point, but it also makes her so different from the average YA female protagonist. In many YA novels, the leading female character is a quirky “not your average girl” girl. Annis is the average society girl– although there is something very special about her.
At the start of the novel, after Annis and her aunt, Cassia, learn of Annis’s father’s death, which appears to be a carriage accident, Annis is certain that there is something more to his death and sets to figure it out. She appears to have a fantasy about spying and her father being a spy. Annis has a determination about her. She wants to know the truth, and demanding it from the War Office is the best way for her to do it.
Her grand plan fails, and because of the death of her father, the family is left with little money and can’t live the life they used to live, so they head to the outskirts of London– far from the high society and city balls that Annis is used to. Along the way, Annis, and her handmaid–a pretty fantastic character that I would read a book about– Millie, discover that Annis has a talent for creating glamours.
So these glamours– it reminds me of how Lunar Magic works in the Lunar Chronical Novels. Except instead of mind magic, it’s all done with fabric. The way that Annis sews things, changes how other people see them. It’s pretty cool.
Millie is excellent at creating disguises– like physical non-magic ones. Millie and Annis are basically an unstoppable pair.
Overall, I found this book a fun departure from the gruesome murder mysteries that I’m used to. It’s a lighter story. I figured out the mystery kind of quickly, but I have been listening to the Sherlock Holmes books and thinking in Sherlockian mysteries, so I feel like if you’re not looking for the answer while you’re reading it, as I was, the book will be more fun.
The female characters are all well rounded and more than what they appear. There a lot of female characters in this book. Jones does a wonderful job at creating separate people in a sea of society girls. I think it can be easy to make a crowd of girls one character; Jones separates each of them. Annis has a little bit of an Elle Woods air about her. She’s very into fashion and from outward appearance can look superficial, but she uses that to her advantage. I like that in a character.
I did enjoy this book, it wasn’t exactly my kind of book, but I loved the characters, and the story was interesting and fun. I definitely think it’s worth picking up.
What September releases are you excited for?
Until next time Internet,