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Review: Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones

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Murder, Magic and What We Wore by Kelly Jones // VBC ReviewMurder, Magic, and What We Wore
Kelly Jones
Published: Sept. 19, 2017 (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Beth

Rating (out of 5): 3 stars

Annis Whitworth’s father is dead. Her mother has been gone for years, and her father traveled a lot. It is on one of these trips that he dies under mysterious circumstances. Annis is convinced her father was a spy for England, and so she sets out to carry on, as she sees it, the family business. Unfortunately, with her father’s death, came a serious decline in “circumstances,” and this is when she learns she can sew glamours. Seeing that as an excellent way to convince the spymasters that she should be within their ranks, she also hatches a plan to try and pay off their family debts by opening a small shop in a town far away from London. However, the events her father was involved in quickly catch up to her, and soon begin to spiral out of her control.

The setting is early 19th century England, and Jones does a lovely job incorporating the way of life during that time. From the dresses and the balls, to the attitudes that women were only good for decoration, it serves to really demonstrate how constricted life could be for females back then. Difference here is that magic, though rare, is an accepted part of society.

The characters were interesting, and mostly of the strong female persuasion—which was, frankly, enjoyable. Annis was, as a 16-year-old well-bred young lady, determined to find a way on her own to get them out of financial trouble and to find her father’s killer. However, that comes with a caveat. Her point-blank refusal to find standard work as would be expected in that situation smacked of a spoiled (though spirited) brat. Her maid, Millie, I adored…but she seemed to find a whole lot of different talents mysteriously quickly and easily. Annis’ Aunt Cassia, who has been responsible for her since her mother died, bore the brunt of Annis’ attitudes.

As for the plot, well…it was fun, it was enjoyable, and there were a million holes in it. Again, so many convenient happenings that just seemed to appear out of nowhere. Mind you, rarely did this detract from the book, as long as I looked at it as an easy breezy summer read. However, while this is a bit of a mystery, I had it solved before the characters did. There was a dead giveaway in one section of the book, and I was quite surprised not one of the characters latched onto it.

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore is a lighthearted romp with a group of strong ladies, and a mystery that happens to get solved. I think, if this were to become a series (and the ending does leave that possibility open), I might check out the second one out of curiosity and because it was enjoyable, but it would definitely not be on my pre-order MUST HAVE list.

Sexual content: none

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