Monday, September 25, 2017

Review: Murder, Magic, and What We Wore (Kelly Jones)

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore
Title: Murder, Magic, and What We Wore
Series: standalone
Author: Kelly Jones
Publisher: Knopf BYR
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Genre: Alternate Historical Mystery
Told: First Person (Annis), Past Tense
Content Rating: Older Teen (violence)
Format Read: ARC (publisher)
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The year is 1818, the city is London, and 16-year-old Annis Whitworth has just learned that her father is dead and all his money is missing. And so, of course, she decides to become a spy.

Annis always suspected that her father was himself a spy, and following in his footsteps to unmask his killer makes perfect sense. Alas, it does not make sense to England’s current spymasters—not even when Annis reveals that she has the rare magical ability to sew glamours: garments that can disguise the wearer completely.

Well, if the spies are too pigheaded to take on a young woman of quality, then Annis will take them on. And so she crafts a new double life for herself. Miss Annis Whitworth will appear to live a quiet life in a country cottage with her aunt, and Annis-in-disguise as Madame Martine, glamour artist, will open a magical dressmaking shop. That way she can earn a living, maintain her social standing, and, in her spare time, follow the coded clues her father left behind and unmask his killer.

It can’t be any harder than navigating the London social season, can it?

*          *          *

Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review. Thank you, Random House!

In a Sentence: A delightfully fun and fashionable alternate Regency mystery with an engaging story, endearing characters, and enchanting magic.

Regency fashion aficionados who also enjoy espionage and whimsical magic, you are in for a treat with Murder, Magic, and What We Wore! Outfitted with a cast of resourceful and talented females, this fast-paced intrigue was a delightful read with a light if predictable mystery, easy description and dialogue, and a thrilling, open end that left me wishing for a whole series.

While the historical intrigue was exciting and the understated magic a marvel, it was the enterprising female characters that really made the book shine. While Annis and Millie rather stumble into their amazing talents, the mastery of them doesn't come easy (well, at least for Annis), and their perseverance and hard work to make an independent living despite cultural setbacks made for a very engaging story. Skillful maid Millie, my favorite, was perhaps a little too good at most everything she set her hand to, but she was a perfect partner for fashionista Annis and I loved their occasionally inverted master-servant dynamic. I'd really like to see how their partnership will further develop and have my fingers crossed for at least a sequel featuring the dynamic duo and their international escapades.

Special Note: There are many fictional and historical cameos among the walk-ons in this book. If spotting them is your thing, be sure to peruse the Author's Note glossary at the back of the book before starting the story!

Conclusion: A delightful historical mystery with marvelous magic, intriguing espionage, and talented females. Keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel, or even a whole series! Highly recommend, especially for fans of Gail Carriger and Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamourist Histories series.

Scribble Rating
4.5 of 5 Scribbles

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