Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book review: The Grace Mysteries: Assassin & Betrayal by Grace Cavendish

The Grace Mysteries: Assassin and Betrayal by Patricia Finney writing as Grace Cavendish (Published by Delacorte Press, April 5, 2011)

This is a 2-in-1 rerelease of the first two books from the series, which was originally titled The Lady Grace Mysteries. These books are written in the form of a diary kept by Lady Grace Cavendish, a fictional Maid of Honor to Queen Elizabeth I, as she solves various mysteries at court.

Book 1, Assassin: Lady Grace Cavendish grew up at the court of Queen Elizabeth I. When her mother died after accidentally drinking poison meant for the queen, Elizabeth takes on the responsibility of giving Grace a home at court and eventually finding her a husband. Now thirteen years old in the spring of 1569, Grace is a Maid of Honor to the queen, and the time has come for her betrothal. Even though she will not have to marry for three more years, Grace still dreads being betrothed. Elizabeth plans a lavish ball where Grace may choose her future husband from among three suitors. Everything goes as planned, until the day after the ball -- when one of Grace's rejected suitors is found dead, and the man she has chosen for her betrothed is the prime suspect - but Grace thinks he is innocent. Now Grace must solve the mystery and find the real killer.

Book 2, Betrayal: When Lady Sarah, a fellow Maid of Honor to Queen Elizabeth I, disappears, apparently having eloped with the dashing young Captain Drake, thirteen-year-old Lady Grace Cavendish takes it upon herself to discover the truth of Lady Sarah's whereabouts. Her discoveries lead her to believe that rather than leaving of her own free will, Lady Sarah may have been kidnapped. Grace decides to disguise herself as a boy, and along with her friend Masou, a tumbler at the court, stows away aboard Captain Drake's ship in the hope of rescuing her, but in doing so she has put herself in danger, too.

I highly recommend this series to middle grade and young adult readers who love books set in Tudor England or historical fiction written as a diary (like the Dear America and Royal Diaries series). Though I'm not sure the dress on the new cover is from the correct time period (it looks more 17th-18th century to me!) it is a pretty cover and I hope it will attract some new readers to the series, and I am glad to see the publisher giving the series another chance.

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