Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Palace of Spies (review)

4/5 stars

Very rarely is a book as much fun as Palace of Spies (Goodreads | Amazon).  Peggy Fitzroy is an orphan living in her bossy and overbearing uncle's house.  But since she has nowhere else to go, she trudges through trying to ignore his increasing insults.  Everything goes awry when her uncle announces her sudden betrothal, she meets said fiancee (he doesn't deserve our Peggy) in unfortunate circumstance and ends up kicked out of her uncle's house into the streets.

Before she knows it, Peggy is swept into impersonating Lady Francesca, one of the lady's in waiting at King George I's court.  A clever girl, Peggy doesn't understand why she's been brought into this scheme but through observation and some snooping, she discovers that Lady Francesca may have been murdered and begins fearing for her own life.

This book is a romping adventure, not that there are pirate ships or lots of sword fights, but it feels like a romping adventure.  Filled with politics, intrigue and the drama of life at court, Palace of Spies is feisty and fun.  In some ways the style of writing reminded me of Gail Carriger, (minus the fantasy elements) and the book has a great sense of humor and snark.

Peggy, too smart for her own good, carries the book.  She's everything you want in a main character, intelligent, funny with a knack for getting herself into sticky situations.  I liked how this book dealt with female characters all-around, rather than making them vapid for wearing pretty dresses and flirting with boys it presented them as master strategists.  Whether it's Peggy, who you have to cheer for, or conniving Sophy, the women of court aren't just eye candy or pawns but playing their own political game.

Whenever I read books filled with mystery and court politics, I always wonder why there aren't more YA novels set in royal courts.  It just seems such a natural fit, royal courts are filled with scheming young beautiful people and someones always plotting treason.  This book has it all, a mystery that keeps you guessing, a heroine to cheer for, handsome young men and mischievous plotting by almost every character in the book.

I received an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

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