Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: eGalley through NetGalley.com
Rating: 3/5 stars
I got a copy of this to review through NetGalley. Previously I had read Julie Berry’s book the Amaranth Enchantment and really enjoyed it. This book was okay, but started out a bit slow.
The young women at Etheldreda’s School for Girls don’t know what to do when the headmistress Mrs. Plackett and brother, Mr. Godding, are found poisoned and dead after dinner one day. Smooth Kitty doesn’t want to leave the Girls school and her friends (none of the girls want to leave) and devises a plan. The girls will bury Mrs. Plackett and her brother in the backyard and Stout Alice will dress as Mrs. Plackett. That way no one will know their headmistress ever died and the girls can carry on as usual. Of course they also want to find out who the murderer is…and of course things go horribly wrong.
This was an okay Victorian mystery type of young adult story. The writing flows decently and the mystery is cleverly put together. However, it takes a long time for the story to get going and there are a lot of characters here. It was a bit much to keep track of and the first part of the book was a bit of a drag for me. The second half of the book was much better. Things really start to happen quickly in the 2nd half and we know the characters better, so it’s easier to follow what’s going on.
There are a lot of character to follow and all of their names have an adjective in front of them which was odd. I guess having the adjective in front of the name (Smooth Kitty, Dear Roberta, Dull Martha, Disgraceful Mary, Stout Alice, Pocked Louise, and Dour Elinor) helps you connect the character personality with the name. It’s a lot of characters to keep track of. The problem with this is that all the characters are very stereotypical and the only one we really get to know in any detail is Smooth Kitty.
This is primarily a goofy Victorian mystery of sorts. It was mildly entertaining, but I did have quite a bit of trouble engaging with the story for the first half of the book. The whole things reads a bit like a game of Clue.
Overall an okay young adult Victorian mystery. I enjoyed the way the plot was put together and the mystery behind it. I thought there were too many characters and had trouble engaging with them and following them all. I would tentatively recommend this book to those who enjoy Clue-like who-done-it Victorian mysteries.