by Y. S. Lee
Oh this is a fun book. YA, Victorian lady spies. Oh yea!
Mary is sentenced to hang as a thief when she is rescued by some women doing good works. She gets a second chance at life and is eventually given the opportunity for adventure at being a spy. Her first job is to figure out where proof of insurance fraud is hidden. She poses as a ladies companion to a bratty girl and sneaks around looking for clues.
So Mary is resourceful, pretty dang smart and is not without faults. She makes a bit of a mess of things in her enthusiasm for the job. The story is cute without being cutesy and there is a very real danger lurking about and secrets to uncover. The story is twisty and enjoyable to navigate.
This is a book about perception, how your ideas about something can make you miss what is right in front of you. It also highlights relations between couples, the inequality of women in that time period and the sad lack of decent plumbing. This book takes place during The Great Stink when the super hot heat made the nasty (at the time) Thames smell so bad due to the sewage and factory waste dumped directly in the river. Gross!
As the book is YA it isn’t too scary though it is a bit violent. The story unfolds at a pretty good pace and there is even a little bit of romance. It is sweet and enjoyable. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book! 3.5-4 stars embroidered on a handkerchief doused in lemon water…hold it to your nose when you get too close to the river.