The Agency: A Spy in the House

“It’s terrifying, to be on the verge of finally getting what you want.” – Y.S. Lee  

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The Agency: A Spy in the House written by Y.S. Lee

Published by Candlewick in 2010

Blurb: 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 back streets 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.

My Take on It: Never under-estimate the power of a woman! I love that message! Of course in the 1850’s that is what most people did, even women themselves. A Young lady as a spy in the Victorian era made for a fun and unique story line. I love a heroine that is independent and strong, especially in a setting where everything pushes against that. I also liked that she had her faults too. Plus it wasn’t the typical historical fiction that I usually read. The characters were more part of the middle class(some maybe middle-upper?) than upper class. It was an easy, fast paced read with some wit to it. I liked finding a little bit of a tie in with the author herself (no spoilers from me thought!). I can’t wait to read something else by Y.S. Lee.

The Red Necklace

“There is nothing to fear except the power you give to your own demons.”   – Sally Gardner

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Blurb: The winds of change are blowing through Paris in the winter of 1789, both for France and for our hero, a striking and mysterious Gypsy boy named Yann Margoza. He was born with a gift for knowing what people are thinking and an uncanny ability to throw his voice, and he has been using those skills while working for a rather foolish magician. That work will soon end, however, and on the night of the magician’s final performance, Yann’s life will truly begin. That’s the night he meets shy Sido, an heiress with a cold-hearted father, a young girl who has only known loneliness until now. Though they have the shortest of conversations, an attachment is born that will influence both their paths.

And what paths those will be! While Revolution is afoot in France, Sido is being used as the pawn of a fearful villain who goes by the name Count Kalliovski. Some have instead called him the devil, and only Yann, for Sido’s sake, will dare to oppose him.

My Take on It: so Creepy and Good! I came across this book by accident actually. I started listening to a reading done by Tom Hiddleston (who has the most amazing British voice) and I got hooked! I don’t usually go for audio books, something about the page that still grabs me. However, he does a great job. I ended up only listening to half of it on audio due to circumstances out of my control and read the rest. I loved this story. For one thing, I’ve never read a story about Gypsies. Gardner gives a great diversity to the characters and I really enjoyed the history of the revolution woven in. I felt like the creepiness of the villain, Kalliovski, really made the story complete. He came across as truly dangerous, scary and creepy. It’s slightly gruesome, but not gory. After all what else can you expect from the French Revolution? It ended with a twist and made the next book in this series a must read for me!