Publisher: Penguin Random House | Pages: 260
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
The publisher kindly sent me a physical copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Jane Austen meets Arthur Conan Doyle in a historical fiction debut for fans of Ruta Sepetys and Elizabeth Wein.
Born into an affluent family, Leo outwardly seems like a typical daughter of English privilege in the 1870s: she lives with her wealthy married sister Christabel, and lacks for neither dresses nor trinkets. But Leo has a crippling speech impediment that makes it difficult for her to speak but curiously allows her to mimic other people’s voices flawlessly. Servants and ladies alike call her “Mad Miss Mimic” behind her back … and watch as she unintentionally scares off every potential suitor. Only the impossibly handsome Mr. Thornfax seems interested in Leo … but why? And does he have a connection to the mysterious Black Glove group that has London in its terrifying grasp? Trapped in a city under siege by terror attacks and gripped by opium fever, where doctors (including her brother-in-law) race to patent an injectable formula, Leo must search for truth in increasingly dangerous situations – but to do so, she must first find her voice.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House Canada and I am so thankful they sent it to me! I really enjoyed reading this book! I must say that if I were in a bookstore and picked this book off the shelf I don’t know if I would have given it a read. However, I would totally open my mind up to more stories like this after reading this book.
There are a number of reasons as to why I thoroughly enjoyed this book. First, I have an honours degree in History, which means that the setting of Victorian London was really entertaining to me! I loved the fact that this book was set in 1872 because it had a really unique and interesting vibe to it. Second, I sincerely appreciated the historical accuracy to this novel (and probably more so as a history lover!). Henstra’s acknowledgement of the amount of research that went into the creation of this novel shows her commitment to a novel that is as authentic as possible. Third, I really loved Leo’s character – I couldn’t help but like her! While her struggle with stuttering and mimicry ultimately wreaked havoc on her life in general, I had a real strong soft spot for her and couldn’t help but hope for the best for her.
My one (and really minor) complaint about this novel is the fact that at some points things were really unclear to me. For instance, a non-dominant character dies at the beginning of the novel however, I am still quite unclear as to how and why she died. These sorts of scenarios often repeated throughout the novel where I was left confused. I think that at times Henstra would have benefited from making certain scenarios a bit more explicit to her reader. That said, it did not take away from the overall experience of the novel.
Henstra’s debut novel was intriguing, suspenseful, romantic and overall an immensely enjoyable read. I am so incredibly grateful to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me this book and giving me the opportunity to enjoy Leo’s story. I can’t wait to delve more into some young adult historical fiction in the future!
“So do you see, Leo? I grieved you too. Right from the beginning, I grieved as I loved, all along.”
“I loved you. But I knew from the beginning that I could never have you.”
About the Author:
Sarah is a professor of English literature at Ryerson University, where she teaches courses in Gothic Horror, Fairy Tales & Fantasies, Psychoanalysis & Literature, and Creative Writing. She grew up on the wild, wet coast of British Columbia, but now she lives in Toronto, Ontario with her two sons.
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