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Friday, September 13, 2013

Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel

Title: Palace of Spies
Author: Sarah Zettel
ISBN: 9780544074118
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Released: November 5, 2013
Page #: 362
Source: ARC from the publisher

"Murder. Espionage. Card Games?
Peggy Fitzroy has many talents, but until recently these three were not among them. No, Peggy was merely a lively and charming young lady of the regular sort, until the day she refused to marry the utter cad chosen for her.

Cast out on the street, Peggy has to find a means of support. Though it sounds rather mysterious, she agrees to disguise herself as a lady in waiting in the court of King George I. The real lady in waiting died, supposedly of natural causes.

Life at the palace is grand, until Peggy starts to suspect that something dreadful happened to the girl she is impersonating. Could it have been murder? Unless Peggy can discover what really happened, she might be doomed to the same terrible fate! But in a court filled with shadows and intrigue, anyone could be a spy - perhaps even Matthew, the handsome young artist with whom Peggy is falling in love..."
First Lines: (Quote from the ARC, subject to change)

"I must begin with a frank confession. I became Lady Francesca Wallingham only after I met the man calling himself Tinderflint. This was after my betrothal, but before my uncle threw me into the street and barred the door."
Page 1

I was in dire need of a change in genre. There's only so many fantasy/sci fi books I can read in a row. This seemed like the perfect, easy departure from the norm. 

Peggy is expected to live a normal, quiet life. She is to be married off and spend her life having a family. When she meets her betrothed, she realizes there is way she can face this life. Her uncle throws her out because of her decision and she runs to the only person who has promised her a decent life. Little did she know it would include being stationed at the palace and ferreting out the reason for her predecessor's death.

So, I'm really wondering how much of this book is going to change at publication. I was looking at an advanced copy that has a whole different cover and a different title. And there were times when I wondered if the author might change something that happens within the story. And I sort of hope a few things are changed...

As a whole, I thought the story was really good. There were a few little things that annoyed me. One is the way the accents were portrayed... Any time you had the word "behind." it became "b'ind." And any time there was an H-sound, they broke up the word. It just took me out of the story every time. And it really didn't seem necessary. So I hope they changed that. Otherwise, you don't really need an indication about accents... there are a ton of different languages spoken by the characters. It was just a weird addition for me.

There were some truly hilarious moments in this book. Usually it was during our main character describing something - like the outfits they wear, or the craziness of court life. Those little glimmers really helped the story along. And I don't think I was expecting this to be as much of a mystery novel as it is. You realize that Peggy is taking the place of a girl who died, but you don't realize how deeply she is involved in some of the devious plots.

Truly, this book was very middle of the road for me. It's a good story, there's some fun romance and a big mystery, and an interesting view of court life. But I had some trouble at times with names and figuring out who was who... and with Peggy/Fran having a couple of different names, things got confusing. Same with Tinderflint, or whoever he really was.

I do think that teens who are looking for a fun, mysterious, historical book could really get into this. And I think the new cover probably helps in that. It's not a must-read, but it definitely is a solid contribution to the genre.
Other Blog Reviews:

I Heart YA Fiction
Book Whales
[There aren't many reviews out there yet. I'm sure there will be more once the publication date gets closer. Let me know if you review it and want to be included in this list. Thanks!]

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