Saturday, March 31, 2012

Review: A Spy in The House by Y. S. Lee.

a spy in the house

 

  Introducing an exciting new series Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this diverting mystery trails a feisty heroine as she takes on a precarious secret assignment.

  Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners - and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady's companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant's home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust - or is there? 

Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets - including those of her own past.

From: Goodreads.

Get the e-book from: Amazon, B&N, The Book Depository or Kobo (Not available in my region. You have to visit the website and search for the book).

The cover:

I really love this cover. I think the model in it does represent Mary Quinn very well. And the fonts are awesome.

The storyline:

This book was recommended to me by both Goodreads and Amazon. I did look for reviews on it and they were all promising. I wasn’t so sure if I’d like it though, because I’ve never really read a novel set in the Victorian era (Unless you count Stefan’s Diaries, of course…). But, as a reader, I should try different genres and writing styles so I can find my new favorites.

And guess what? I adore this novel ^_^. The author, Y. S. Lee, did a wonderful job with it. The story itself is very unique and captive. There’s a bit of everything in this book: romance, tragedy, family, friendships and a lot of mystery and thriller.

As a thriller and mystery fan, I’m happy to say that A Spy in The House exceeded my expectations. I was expecting a nice storyline, a good thriller with suspense and a good ending. What I got instead was an amazing story, a lot of mystery and suspense from the start of the book to the end of it, oh and the ending, it was completely funny and opening for the sequel.

The writing was a bit strange for me, although it was clear and somehow easy to understand (there were many times when I needed the dictionary, maybe because I’m not that fluent in English? or probably because it was written in British English? Anyhow…), it began with the chapters from Mary’s POV (point of view) and then suddenly there were chapters with James’s point of view. It completely disoriented me for some time and then I got used to it and I actually liked the method.

The relationships in this book are complicated and not so easy to predict and they have their own mystery. Especially the relationship between James and Mary, it totally blow me away and I was always anticipating what was coming next.

I loved the new Mary and how she used her past skills in her new assignment. She was brave and courageous and never looked back but also was ashamed of her origins. I hope this will change later.

And to sum things up:

What I loved:

  • The story was unique and thrilling.
  • The writing style was great!
  • The characters are interesting and not boring at all. Even the maids had a place in this story.
  • The suspense amazing.
  • It was interesting and fun to see the Victorian era in general and in London specifically.
  • The few last chapters were breath taking. I had to stop myself from sneaking on the next page. I wasn’t 100% successful >_<”.
  • It was set in London! What’s not to like?!

What I disliked:

  • I would be crazy if I hated one thing about this book.

The characters:

I’m going to talk about the main characters that we follow through the book, the others, you’ll have to read the book to know more about them Winking smile.

Mary Lang/Quinn is the main protagonist. She’s been thru a lot and when a second chance was offered to her, she took it gladly and developed in this amazing spy lady. Thought the story, we see that the real her didn’t change but it was made better. She’s friendly, supportive, shy, strong, stubborn, dependent and courageous.

Anne is Mary’s supervisor and mentor, if I could say so. She’s calm, kind, serious and supportive. She respects the other girls in the school and their wills. She’s the one who brought Mary to the school and later enrolled her in The Academy.

James Easton is an Engineer in London. Mary first meets him in the Thorolds estate and they keep meeting for the rest of the book. Their relationship is really unique. They fight, laugh, do crazy stuff but always find comfort in the other’s presence. The ending of the book showed the end of their relationship, but after reading a sneak peek of the sequel, I’m happy to say they’ll meet again Open-mouthed smile.

Top three favorite quotes:

“Speaking of nursing . . . I hope your hand is beginning to heal nicely.”   

Her right hand was on fire. “Yes, thank you.”   

“Did the special salve help at all?” His tone was vaguely . . . insolent, she’d have said, except that he was her social superior.

Mary’s chin lifted a fraction. “Indeed it did.” If anything, the greasy ointment seemed to make everything worse.   

“Such a relief to hear that,” he murmured. --- Chapter 5.

Why? Was she being annoying just for the sake of it? “On second thought, never mind. I’ll just dump you in the Thames instead.”   

She startled him by grinning — not sarcastically but with genuine amusement. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”   

“It’s tempting,” he admitted. --- Chapter 10.

She’d gone about thirty paces when she heard his voice.   

“Mary!”   

She spun about. “What is it?”   

“Stay out of wardrobes!”   

She laughed, shook her head, and began to walk again. She was smiling this time. --- Chapter 29.

Conclusion:

If you’re looking for a wonderful YA thriller and mystery, this is your book. You won’t regret it at all even if you don’t enjoy stories set in the Victorian era.

I should thank Y. S. Lee for writing such great books, I’m definitely a big fan of yours Open-mouthed smile.

5/5

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Randa