Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Agency: A Spy in the House

 What I've Read This Week

The Agency 1: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee -- YA Historical Fiction/Mystery
Orphaned at an early age, Mary Lang was left to fend for herself in the streets of Victorian London through thieving. At the age of 12, she was caught and sentenced to hang, until a kind stranger stepped in. Mary is given a lady's education that will prepare her for any of the occupations open to women at that time. Not satisfied with the idea of marriage or in any of the career options open to her, Mary's teachers take her into their confidence to enlist her as the newest member of The Agency, a female spy organization. Mary's quick wits and feistiness make her the perfect candidate for the dangerous job of spy. Under a false name, Mary assumes the roll of demure companion to the spoiled beauty Angelica Thorold, daughter of a wealthy merchant. Mr. Thorold is suspected of shady business dealings and it's up to Mary to listen and learn all she can. Not content to sit idly by, Mary takes it upon herself to get more involved. Soon she's deep into a web of secrets and lies, assisted by a handsome, arrogant young businessman who always seems to bring out the worst in her. Mary is a plucky and intelligent heroine. She's a tomboy, yet she understands the restrictions placed on her and publicly refuses to break the bounds of propriety. I admire the author for creating a heroine who is both likable and realistic. The mysteries are cleverly planned and the clues so subtly planted that even I couldn't figure them out. There's also humor and a hint of romance in addition to the adventure, which make for a great read. My only complaints are that Mary's education and training are rushed right through and I would like to have seen what kind of spy training she was given. The writing is also a little simplistic and lacks the period language of similar books like Mairelon the Magician (by Patricia C. Wrede). I look forward to reading the next in the series when it is released. Fans of the Bloody Jack adventures by L.A. Meyer, Mairelon the Magician, 19th century fanatics and mystery lovers will all enjoy this book!

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