Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones – YA F JON (currently in NEW)
What it’s about: As our story opens, sixteen-year-old Annis has just learned that her beloved father has mysteriously died while away on one of his frequent “business trips.” Annis and her Aunt Cassia are left virtually penniless. Cassia believes Annis’ only option is to become a governess but Annis rebels. She wants to become a spy (like her father) and uncover who murdered him. Unfortunately she can’t convince the War Office that she is spy material so she disguises herself as an elderly French dressmaker and uses her magic to sew ball gowns (with the help of her assistant, Millie). In no time, secret messages, code names, and knife fights are flitting in and out of ballrooms and dressmakers’ shops. Technically a Regency tale since it is set in 1818, this story has very little romance but tons of girl power and Annis proves that bravery and style can go comfortably hand-in-hand, especially if she has designed the outfit (with secret pockets to conceal their knives!).
Roben says: Historical mystery with a bit of magic thrown in? What is there not to like? While on the surface the story seems to be a bit fluffy and nonsensical, there are undercurrents of seriousness dealing with violence against women and the limitations placed on both girls and women in the early 1800s. This is the author’s first book but hopefully we will hear more from Annis and Millie.