Monday, 10 September 2012

Review: The Agency: A Spy in the House

You may have noticed that I haven't reviewed anything in a long time. I confess, I was in a reading slump. Thank you Y S Lee (the author) for getting me out of it. Here is a blurb of The Agency: A Spy in the House:

Mary Quinn leads a remarkable life. At twelve, an orphan and convicted, she was miraculously rescued from the gallows. Now, at seventeen, she has a new and astonishing chance: to work undercover for the Agency.

It is May 1858, and a foul-smelling heat wave paralyzes London. Mary enters a rich merchant's household to solve the mystery of his lost cargo ships. But as she soon learns, the house is full of deceptions, and people are not what they seem - including Mary herself.

The plot centres around Mary, an intelligent and adventurous girl. I can't read a book unless I like the main character. I should also mention that this book is set during the Victorian times. Mary is a Victorian tomboy. She grew up around boys before the tragic loss of her father. As mentioned in the blurb, she was saved from the gallows and has recently been enlisted at The Agency. Mary has her first task: to work undercover as a female's companion and gather information about the girl's father. After all, who would be concerned by a female?

I feel that sexism is portrayed in this book. Mary continues to break the inferior stereotype of women in this book that were common in the Victorian times. She's not uncivilised, she knows how to act properly in society and does so in her position at the house. But I love that there's this side to her that people are too narrow-minded to acknowledge. Another character, Angelica, is Mary's companion. Angelica comes off spiteful and nasty and a bit one-dimensional. However, as we learn more about her, there is clear character building. We are slowly introduced to her story and why she acts the way she does amidst Mary's quest to find out the truth. There is but one other character I want to introduce you to, Mr James Easton. He appears to be quite a minor character at the beginning but his importance in the novel becomes significant after a short while. I liked James because he is outspoken, charming and intelligent. He cares for his family and can be at times, a real gentleman.

The plot was interesting and the mystery surrounding the ships intrigued me. I love detective novels and the way you have to wait until the end to find out the truth. It's just one adventure. But this isn't a simple case of who-dunnit. The story twists and often leads to dead-ends whilst you are intrigued by sub-plots. This book got me out of my reading slump and I think this is a book to be read out over two days. I don't usually put reading estimations in as everyone is different. However, with detective-style books, I prefer to mull over the information at night and then find out the truth the next day.

Characters - 10/10 (breaks stereotypes)

Plot - 8/10

Hookability - 8/10

Total - 26/30

Just thought I'd add this is the first in what I believe to be a gripping trilogy.

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