Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on September 19, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
Sexual Content: References to unwanted contact/possible rape (one character is implied to have assaulted several women)
Reviewed by: Kate
The year is 1818, the city is London, and 16-year-old Annis Whitworth has just learned that her father is dead and all his money is missing. And so, of course, she decides to become a spy.
Annis always suspected that her father was himself a spy, and following in his footsteps to unmask his killer makes perfect sense. Alas, it does not make sense to England’s current spymasters—not even when Annis reveals that she has the rare magical ability to sew glamours: garments that can disguise the wearer completely.
Well, if the spies are too pigheaded to take on a young woman of quality, then Annis will take them on. And so she crafts a new double life for herself. Miss Annis Whitworth will appear to live a quiet life in a country cottage with her aunt, and Annis-in-disguise as Madame Martine, glamour artist, will open a magical dressmaking shop. That way she can earn a living, maintain her social standing, and, in her spare time, follow the coded clues her father left behind and unmask his killer.
It can’t be any harder than navigating the London social season, can it?
Being very familiar with (and loving) fantasy books set in England's Regency period, I absolutely had to read MURDER, MAGIC, AND WHAT WE WORE. And overall, I was not disappointed! While it had its flaws, this book is a fun example of this genre, and is a cute, quick read.
I was amused by Annis' antics - she is both observant and somewhat dense at times. Her maid, Millie, was an even more interesting character, and I liked her partnership with Annis. Millie was quick and picked up on things when Annis did not, but Annis was the one with the schemes. They had a nice interplay.
Though the book is titled MURDER, MAGIC, AND WHAT WE WORE, I was never really frightened for the main characters. Though they got in some tough situations at times, there was always a reasonable escape and the most concern I felt was during when Annis got caught alone in a room with a young gentleman who had a habit of man-handling maids. There never felt like there was real danger from the other spies, though there was an element of "who can Annis trust" underscoring all of her conversations.
My biggest complaint would be the poor world-building. All of a sudden, it was discovered that Annis could sew glamours, but they were never really explained, and the role of magic in the world was never really explained either. This could easily have been more of an aspect of the book.
Overall, while MURDER, MAGIC, AND WHAT WE WORE was not perfect, it definitely had aspects I like - magic, interesting characters, and enough of a mystery to keep me entertained. Plus, while I am not sure if this is the first in a series or a stand-alone, for the most part, the mystery gets tied up at the end of the book, so there are no cliff-hangers and the ending is satisfying.Series Titles: