Where I got it: Library
Rating: 4.5 stars
Cover Rating: 5 stars (Very Victorian.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: March 9, 2010
Page Count: 335p.
Mary Quinn was but twelve when she was rescued from the gallows and brought to Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls. Here they made her a new life filled with learning and education instead of panhandling and thievery. However, when Mary asks one day if maybe there's more for her than just teaching the younger girls, she gets enlisted into the Agency. The Agency is a secret female spy group that uses the school as a front. They send her to be a lady's companion for the daughter of a man they are investigating. She is only to observe and not interfere. When things start to seem out of place though Mary can't help herself and the Agency may find out there are more secrets than they had originally thought.
Awesome. That is what this book was. At times, it did seem very slow going, but it was amazingly realistic. For a spy novel it was quite tame and didn't have outrageous explosions or high speed pursuits. I love the time period (1853) and this novel shows that Y.S. Lee's PhD is being put to good use. This book reminded me a lot of A Great and Terrible Beauty just without the magic. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and am super excited for The Body at the Tower. Mary's character was not completely developed (certainly on purpose) because we know little about her past. It seems like there are many things Mary herself doesn't know, but nevertheless it's exciting to imagine what she may find out. I found myself excited as each new development, or at least each piece of the puzzle, was presented. It was very intriguing to try and race the characters in order to figure out what was what. The love interest in this novel is excellent. The relationship strains and is awkward and great and sweet and true. It's a real romantic-tension sort of deal. So definitely pick this up if you enjoy Victorian Fiction with a strong female lead and a cute but stubborn love interest.
"She should have been listening to the judge."
"He lifted a glass of punch out of a surprised guest's hand and scooped the bits of crushed ice into his handkerchief."