RIVALS IN THE CITY by Y.S. Lee Book Review
Series: The Agency, #4
Publication Date: March 10th 2015 by Candlewick Press
Rating: – Acceptable
Book Summary: In a tale steeped in action, romance, and the gaslit intrigue of Victorian London, Mary Quinn’s detective skills are pitted against a cunning and desperate opponent.
Mary Quinn has a lot on her mind. James Easton, her longtime love interest, wants to marry her; but despite her feelings, independent-minded Mary hesitates. Meanwhile, the Agency has asked Mary to take on a dangerous case: convicted fraudster Henry Thorold is dying in prison, and Mary must watch for the return of his estranged wife, an accomplished criminal herself who has a potentially deadly grudge against James. Finally, a Chinese prizefighter has arrived in town, and Mary can’t shake a feeling that he is somehow familiar. With the stakes higher than ever, can Mary balance family secrets, conflicting loyalties, and professional expertise to bring a criminal to justice and find her own happiness?
Book Review Overview:
- I like how the series comes to a full circle and revisits the Thorold family
- Not a lot of Mary and James in this book
- Least favorite book in the series
After years of waiting, I finally had a chance to read Rivals in the City, the last book the the Agency series by Y.S. Lee. The Agency series is one of my favorites; I love the combination of history, romance, and mystery.
I really enjoyed how the series came to a full circle in this final installment. When Mr. Thorold falls deathly ill in jail, Miss Treleaven solicits Mary one last time to track down Mrs. Thorold. Mrs. Thorold has been living abroad for the past few years to evade authorities for the crimes linked to her husband’s cargo ships. Because Mrs. Thorold is a master at deception, Mary is the person most likely to track her down and uncover her plans.
THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND by Meg Medina Book Review
Publication Date: March 13th 2012 by Candlewick Press
Rating: – Acceptable |
Book Summary: Sonia’s entire village believes she has a gift, but it’s only in leaving home that she finds out who she truly is. A compelling tale from a rich new voice in young adult fiction.
Sixteen-year-old Sonia Ocampo was born on the night of the worst storm Tres Montes had ever seen. And when the winds mercifully stopped, an unshakable belief in the girl’s protective powers began. All her life, Sonia has been asked to pray for sick mothers or missing sons, as worried parents and friends press silver milagros in her hands. Sonia knows she has no special powers, but how can she disappoint those who look to her for solace? Still, her conscience is heavy, so when she gets a chance to travel to the city and work in the home of a wealthy woman, she seizes it. At first, Sonia feels freedom in being treated like all the other girls. But when news arrives that her beloved brother has disappeared while looking for work, she learns to her sorrow that she can never truly leave the past or her family behind. With deeply realized characters, a keen sense of place, a hint of magical realism, and a flush of young romance, Meg Medina tells the tale of a strongwilled, warmhearted girl who dares to face life’s harsh truths as she finds her real power.
Book Review Overview:
- Setting plays a big role in THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND
- Quiet book with characters that don’t leave a lasting impression
- Displays the struggles of immigrants who travel away from home in hopes for a better future
The people of Tres Montes in THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND by Meg Medina are superstitious. They believe that a young girl of sixteen, Sonia Ocampo, has the power to heal and to protect. But Sonia knows that she is nothing special and that she has been living a lie her entire life. When given the opportunity, Sonia travels to the capital to work at Casa Mason as a housekeeper and to relieve herself of her town’s burdens.
Setting plays a huge role in THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND. Tres Montes is a sleepy mining mountain town that all the young adults want to escape. Tres Montes is isolated from the outside world; only one train enters and leaves the station each week. I thought that it was great that, as a reader, I could not pinpoint the exact location of Tres Montes. I knew that the people spoke Spanish, and the geographical features give some clues, but it is not a place that I recognize. It gives me the impression that Tres Montes can be any sleepy mining town, but at the same the not knowing also bothered me.
THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND by Meg Medina is a really quiet book, and for books like this, either the writing has to stand out or the characters have to be refreshing. While I enjoyed THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND, the characters – especially Sonia – and the writing fail to leave a lasting impression in my mind. I wish we got to learn more about Dalia, Eva, and even Senora Mason.
However, I did sympathize with the characters who were looking to live a better life. It was inspiring to hear the lengths that some of the citizens of Tres Montes would take just to get a job at the capital. For example, Ramona traveled to Casa Mason for months at a time to earn money to help raise her children – even if it means leaving them behind in Tres Montes. For those who can’t get a work permit, the journey through the mountains is a perilous one, yet young adults are willing to risk their lives in order to get to the capital. For me, this perilous journey is reminiscent of the the trip that it would take for an immigrant to cross the Mexican border. I don’t know if it was the author’s intent, but I saw THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND as a reflection for the immigrants who risk their lives in hopes for a better future.
I feel like the ending wasn’t completely resolved. I would have liked to know what happened to the girls back at the capital in Casa Mason. As a reader, we are neglected to be informed about some of the consequences of Sonia’s choices toward the end of the book. However, the closing scene of THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND is a hopeful one that leaves a beautiful and lasting image in readers’ minds.
I would recommend THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND by Meg Medina to readers who don’t mind a quiet novel.
Other Book Reviews:
Wear the Old Coat
About the Author
Meg Medina has written for adults and children for over fifteen years. Her stories and poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines. MILAGROS: Girl from Away (Christy Ottaviano Books: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers) is her first novel for young readers. Meg is also the author of TIA ISA WANTS A CAR and THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND (both forthcoming from Candlewick Press).
Meg lives in Richmond, Virginia with her family.
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THE BODY AT THE TOWER by Y.S. Lee Book Review
Series: The Agency, #2
Publication Date: August 10th 2010 by Candlewick Press
Book Summary: This is another colourful, action-packed Victorian detective novel about the exploits of agent Mary Quinn. At a young age, Mary Quinn is rescued from the gallows and taken to Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls. The school turns out to be a front for a private detective agency. At age 17, Mary takes on her first case (A Spy in the House). In this, the second book of the series, Mary Quinn sets out to uncover the truth behind a suspicious death at St. Stephen’s Tower, better known as the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament. The accident occurred after hours in a highly public part of town and despite the presence of night watchmen. Mary, disguised as Mark Quinn, becomes a builder’s assistant to find out the truth about the body at the tower.
Book Review Overview:
- Fantastic sequel but not quite as good as A Spy in the House, the first book
- Learn something about the working class during the Victorian era
- More fantastic chemistry between Mary and James
- Leaves you craving for more
THE BODY AT THE TOWER is another riveting mystery from Y.S. Lee. Mary Quinn goes undercover as Mark, an assistant at a construction site for St. Stephen’s Tower. With her hair chopped off and in trousers 24 hours a day, Mary completely embraces her new persona as she tries to uncover the culprit behind the recent murder at St. Stephens. Break-ins, disguises, and other types of espionage ensues.