A Spy in the House: Book Review

The Agency - A Spy in the House - A Mary Quinn series by YS Lee. Read the review at Miss Jenny's Classroom

Mary Quinn is headed for death when she is unexpectantly saved. Thinking she will need to atone for her sins she is surprised to be recruited for a very different purpose.

Title: A Spy in the House           Alternative Title: The Agency: A Spy in the House
Series: Mary Quinn : 1
Author: Y.S. Lee
ISBN: 9780763652890          Language: English (some 官话 / Mandarin / Chinese reference & keywords)

Classification: Fiction based in the Victorian era
Themes: mystery, detective, history

What’s it about?
Mary is an street orphan who is caught and sentenced to hang. By design she is saved from the gallows and given the chance at a new life and identity. Taken in by a boarding school Mary learns to read, write and be a lady…and then she gets an offer she can’t refuse – to go undercover as a lady’s companion. Mary soon finds herself attempting to solve the mystery of the ships which keep sinking all the while trying to avoid James Easton who she continually comes up against.

Embrace
From the first moment I read this book I was enthralled. This book sets a great pace without skimping on details. The characters are likeable and believable; it is fantastic to see a strong protagonist with a mixed heritage of Chinese and Irish. From a historical point of view the author has seamlessly woven in references to people and places without it feeling as if she is stopping to give you a history lesson.

Beware
This book does contain some adult themes in regards to her mother’s lifestyle (as a prostitute) and quite a bit of innuendo (but in good taste and light-hearted).

The Agency - A Spy in the House - A Mary Quinn series by YS Lee. Read the review at Miss Jenny's ClassroomMy Thoughts
I have often wished I taught in secondary schools so that I could use this book as a novel study. It truly is one of the best novels that I have read in a while.

I love the characters and especially the banter between James and Mary. The relationship between these too really allows the reader to navigate through some more series scenes and themes of this book. With Mary beginning this journey about to be hanged she is a well-developed character that you really come in invest in heavily. Her lack of knowledge of her own history is fascinating as the author drops breadcrumbs to be followed.

James on the otherhand has a sarcastic nature that tends to break tensions and make your heart pound at the same time. With his own history to speak of and trying to keep his love-sick brother heading in the correct direction he clearly has a lot on his plate as well when he first comes across Mary.

The historical elements that are woven into this story flow really naturally. It isn’t a case of the author stopping in the story to give you a history lesson but rather the details flow naturally within the storyline. To me it was clear that the author has spent a good amount of time researching the place, setting, and history that serves as a backdrop to this novel.

Some may find some passages a little long-winded but not to the page-flicking extent. It really is a solid first book in the Mary Quinn series and I look forward to reading the next one to find out what happens next.

Y.S. Lee author of the Mary Quinn series. Read reviews on Miss Jenny's Classroom and then visit the author's website.

What do you think?