Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Size: 368 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Palace of Spies
Source: ARC from Amazon Vine
Rating: 3/5 stars
I got a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program to review. It is a cute historical fiction novel, but nothing special. Parts were a bit boring, but there is some cute humor in here as well.
Peggy is a well-bred orphan who gets kicked out of her house because she refuses to marry a man who tries to rape her. Instead she ends up taking an assignment as a spy by posing as a lady-in-waiting in the court of King George I. Many antics ensue as Peggy tries to convincingly be someone she’s not and accidentally uncovers dangerous plots and intrigue.
This was a cute historical fiction book about a young girl who ends up as a spy in King George’s court. There are some clever parts to this book and a bit of humor. However, I found the story to be a bit boring.
Peggy is funny sometimes and she definitely has guts. Still, she spends an inordinate amount of time complaining about her clothing and a lot of time talking about getting dressed/changed/etc. I understand that clothing and dressing was a big part of life at court, but it really wasn’t all that exciting to read about.
The beginning of the book is a bit dark when Peggy’s betrothed attempts to rape her. It wasn’t an incredibly descriptive scene, but may be disturbing to some readers. The things that is more disturbing is the way no one around her really cares about the attempt and how she is the one punished for not allowing the rape. This is the most serious part of the book and really shows the powerlessness of women in that timeframe.
There are some funny scenes where Peggy has to improvise, she’s posing as a girl who secretly died from fever, so everyone thinks she is someone she is not and she is expected to know a lot of people that she doesn’t. I found the scenario a little unbelievable; you would think your best friend would know it if you weren’t who you said you were….but whatever.
Peggy does have a love interest in the story who is an artist. It is a sweet little friendship/romance, but to be honest it fell a bit flat for me. I never really felt the chemistry between the two and didn’t find her love interest to be all that interesting.
The plot is also fairly predictable. The book is decently written and Zettel obviously did a lot of research to portray the surroundings, clothing, and customs accurately. It would have been nice to have an afterward on the history of King George’s court and what was accurate in the book and what was fiction.
Overall not as much fun as I hoped and not as engaging, but okay. Peggy is an amusing heroine but she lacks depth, as do the surrounding characters. The plot lags at points and is fairly predictable. Still it was fun to read about Peggy and some of the strange situations she ended up in. I personally am not going to read more of this series, there are just better historical books out there.
I would recommend Gail Carriger’s Boarding School series, Emma Jane Halloway’s Baskerville Affair series, or the Gemma Doyle series by Libba Bray to those who want to read an excellent YA historical novel (all the mentioned do have a bit of magic or a paranormal element to them though, whereas this book does not).