Title: Murder, Magic, and What We Wore
Author: Kelly Jones
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Genre(s): Young Adult, Historical, Fantasy
Add to Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
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?
This premise sounded so cool and I could not wait to pick this book up. Honestly, I was expecting more. This book appeared as though it would blend spies, magic, and garment making into a fun murder mystery. Sadly, I felt there was not enough of the murder mystery in this story.
I felt the pacing of this book was off. There were large sections that were far too slow and I personally felt like the ending was rushed. Finding out who the killer was and respective punishment was done in the last three or four chapters. I get that most mystery books save the big reveal for that last 30 pages, but normally the rest of the book is dropping hints to solve the mystery. I felt that this book did not do that. We were introduced to numerous characters and a few clues, but nothing to hint that one of those characters might have been the killer. The main character finds a could clues leading to another subplot, but nothing that is really touched upon.
From the synopsis, I thought that our protagonist was going to be an expert in her glamor magic, or at least that we would skip forward to when she was, but we didn’t. Most of the book was her trying to figure it out and I’m still not 100% sure she did by the end. It felt like she figured out when she could make glamours, but she still wasn’t in control of the magic. For a book called “Murder, Magic, and What We Wore,” I guess I’m just annoyed we focused the most on what was worn and the least on the murder (and solving of said murder).
Moving on from the plot, I thought our main character was…okay. She wasn’t my favorite protagonist to read about, but she wasn’t the worst. She was annoying and unlikable at times, she made dumb decisions, but fortunately she also tried to fix her mistakes instead of relying on others. I thought Millie was a great character though. I thought we were going to get a big reveal about how she played into the larger plot, but nope. She was just a maid that came at the right time and helped the protagonist (with some secrets of her own).
The other characters in this book were so minor, they’re really not worth discussing. For the most part, they were fine, painful clichés, but fine. There were times it took me a minute to remember which character was which, but other than that, I have no major thoughts on them.
Honestly, this book is harmless. It wasn’t the edge-of-the-seat murder mystery, fantasy story I was expecting, but it was an interesting read. It’s a short book that many can probably get through quickly and from a quick glance on GoodReads, my opinion appears to be an unpopular one. I can see why others might like this one, but it just wasn’t doing it for me.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 3 out of 5 Stars