Today I am thrilled to be part of the Maid of Secrets blog tour, hosted by Sel of Bookcase to Heaven, with my review of the novel and a spotlight.
Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan.
To Be Published: May 7, 2013.
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Received e-ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss for the tour.
Seventeen-year-old Meg Fellowes is a wry, resourceful thief forced to join an elite group of female spies in Queen Elizabeth’s Court. There she must solve a murder, save the Crown, and resist the one thing that will become her greatest freedom–and her deadliest peril.
For Meg and her fellow spies are not alone in their pursuit of the murderer who stalks Windsor Castle.
A young, mysterious Spanish courtier, Count Rafe de Martine, appears at every turn in the dark and scandal-filled corridors of the Queen’s summer palace. And though secrets and danger are Meg’s stock-in-trade, she’s never bargained on falling in love…
I was very excited to be accepted for this blog tour because this novel seemed to encompass some of my absolute favourite things in novels: historical setting, royalty, and spies. All three are winners for me, and may I just say: check, check, and check! This one totally delivered and I am a big fan!
In many ways this was a novel about characters, which I thought was used very powerfully. One aspect I really loved was Meg's connection to her troupe and how it wasn't cut off when she was brought into the castle. Instead, Meg's constant comparisons of palace life to troupe life and the surprise visits along the way help to strengthen the understanding of Meg's past and show just how strong her bond to the group she grew up with really is. I think that was really excellent for helping develop Meg as a character. I also just grew to like Meg because of who she is. She is clever and observant but not perfect, which was fantastic to see because it really showed how she was a product of her upbringing. It tied in her background with the girl she became perfectly.
I also loved how prominent the other characters became as the story went on. It wasn't only Meg's story being told, she was just at the centre. I thought it was brilliant to have the other characters each be somewhat mysterious in their own way. I had suspicions about so many of them, but they seemed to be changing constantly as I discovered more about each person. Rafe is a prime example of that as I never knew whether I (or Meg) should trust him or not! I was also so glad to see the other Maids of Honor playing important roles as it is a great set up for the rest of the series. Finally, the portrayal of Elizabeth was absolutely wonderful. There was so much depth to her character and seeing as she is the monarch and the reason all the girls are there as maids/spies, I was so pleased to see so much of her as more than just "the boss" or "the queen".
The writing is also something I want to comment on. Ms. McGowan makes great use of lines that bring you in and make you extremely curious about what's coming, which is a huge asset to a longer book (400+ pages). She really manages to bring things to life, which kept excitement up. While I did occasionally wish the story had moved faster, I do think that the depth helped me really get to know the characters and feel for Meg in particular. I also noticed that there was a sense of exploration that ran throughout the novel and I definitely loved it. Exploring the castle, the court, the mysteries, the men, and even the girls themselves. It added to the sense of wonder and the interest that often comes with historical fiction, while also providing great growth and movement.
In all, this was a fabulous debut that leaves me very excited for the next novel so I can get more of the wonderfully mysterious characters and the excitement that comes with being a Maid of Honor!
Author Bio via Goodreads:
Jennifer McGowan writes Young Adult romance full of swash and buckle. Her first novel, MAID OF SECRETS, debuts in Spring, 2013 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Age: Royal Secret
Came From: A small town in northern Ohio
Became a Maid of Honor: After bringing her tale of spygirls to the noble city, and winning the favor of the great house of Simon (& Schuster).
Special Skill: Matrix-like reflexes, superior strength, fabulous wit… okay, ah – we’ll get back to you on that.
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