Wednesday, September 1, 2010
A Spy in The House
A Spy in the House
by Y.S. Lee
The Agency, book one
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.
(description taken from Amazon.com)
Once again I am beyond impressed with the quality of historical fiction in YA! I had heard such great things about this series that I finally picked it up. I don't know why I seem to have it set in my head that I do not particularly care for historical fiction...as soon as I sit down to read them, I love them. Almost every time!
I am really looking forward to the second book in this series now, The Body at the Tower because I found Mary Quinn to be a wonderful character. She is smart, quirky, snarky, big-hearted, and beguilingly vulnerable. I loved the fact that she is half-Chinese in such an interesting time as Victorian England when having Asian descent was considered so "unfortunate." The way that she doesn't really fit in anywhere makes for such great opportunities for her to learn to disguise herself everywhere!
The London setting was perfectly crafted. I could almost taste the palpably odiforous stench, referred to as the "The Great Stink." Lee does a fantastic job inserting details that make the entire city come alive, inviting readers into new worlds, not just those of London's elite.
Alongside the setting, Lee imagined wonderful, rich characters. I loved to learn more of Mary's teachers, the horrendous family she is sent to work for, the potential love interest/detective partner/friend (Oh, yes, definitely liked meeting James!), and the other quirky secondary characters like the Cook, the Coachman, and Mr. Chen.
I tore through this book and cannot wait to pick up the second!