Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Book Review: The Agency: A Spy in the House, by Y.S. Lee

The Agency: A Spy in the House introduces a unique Victorian character, Mary Quinn, whose intelligence and spunk are atypical for the times.

Mary was destitute, a thief, and destined for the gallows when AnneTreleaven rescues her and gives her a spot at Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls. After several years of school, Mary is invited to join The Agency, a network of female spies who are also managed by Anne and her partner, Felicity.

Mary's first assignment is to be a companion to Angelica Thorold, the spoiled, rich child of Henry Thorold. Henry is suspected of illegal smuggling. Mary is only to listen and find out what she can.

Of course, Mary does more than listen, and in the process becomes acquainted with James Easton. These two have a lovely chemistry, but the romance doesn't sizzle quite yet.

Lee hasn't written realistic historical fiction. There was no organization of female detectives, at least as far as we know. But, the setting is authentic Victorian London. The characters, costumes, customs, and even the filth, put the reader in the story. Mary is perceptive, but makes some stupid decisions. The mystery isn't earth shattering, but the main characters are put in some danger, and there is tension at the end.

The information about Mary's past is the part that most intrigued me, and I'm assuming we'll find out more about this in future adventures. I'm looking forward to those. There's much to keep a reader interested, and I won't hesitate to recommend this one to teens and adults who like some mystery and adventure with their history.

The second book, The Body at the Tower, is available now. The third, The Traitor in the Tunnel, releases  February 28, 2012.

Published by Candlewick, 2011
eBook purchased by me
352  pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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  1. This sounds like an interesting book and I'm going to add it to my ever-increasing TBR list. Thanks for the great review!

  2. This book caught my eye awhile back, but I haven't seen much about it recently. I'm trying hard this year to get to my tbr pile, but that doesn't mean I can't keep my eyes on the lookout for this book! Great review!

  3. I'm sorry you didn't like this one as much as I did. I adored Mary and thought she was a Victorian Nancy Drew. I thought the exclusive female agency was a great device on subverting the stereotypical Victorian woman role. I've already read book 2 which is just as good and can't wait to read 3.

  4. Oh, this sounds really interesting. Just the kind of book I would have liked. Jane Austen meets Agatha Christie--both authors I loved.

  5. I don't know if this is one I would run out to read. It sounds good but not great. Thanks for your honest review!

  6. After seeing so many great reviews, I'm going to be sure to check this one out!


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