Murder, Magic, and What We Wore
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publishes September 19, 2017
About Murder, Magic, and What We Wore
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 was a fantastic light-hearted read. Rollicking and reckless, it kept up its tongue-in-cheek humor while still keeping me intrigued as Miss Annis attempted to puzzle out her father’s mysterious death. The plot was slightly predictable, but the wild humor kept everything fresh enough to hold my amusement.
This book did stretch my suspension of disbelief until it began to fray like a thread. However, I think that was intensional. The story is intended to entertain, rather than immerse, and for that purpose it works beautifully.
I loved the magic system in this book. It fit so perfectly with the historical period in which the story was set. Also, I liked how there were dashes of history thrown into the midst of the suspense, as it helped to ground the story a little more (and keep that thread of disbelief from snapping entirely).
Murder, Magic, and What We Wore is comparable to the Glamourist Histories by Mary Robinette Kowal while being easier to read (and cleaner) for the younger generation. Fans of Cindy Antsey’s books will also fall in love with this comedy of manners. Overall, I’m rating this book 5 out of 5 stars. I hope that the author decides to make this book into a series, as I’m very curious to see what Annis and her friends do next!
Most of the characters in this book are English. One minor character is described as being either West Indian or African. Some antagonism (characteristic of the time period) toward those of French descent are shown.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
One character is insinuated to have attempted to rape several maids. He attacks Annis at one point, and it is assumed that he has less-than-honorable intentions. One proposal of marriage. One remark that it is not considered good form to allow a young gentlemen’s lips to approach a young lady’s.
A few characters dress as characters from Greek mythology for a masquerade.
A few suspicious deaths (off page). A few attacks, including one insinuated to be an attempted rape. Some injuries. Nothing graphic.
Characters drink and serve alcoholic drinks as a matter of course. One character comments on a memory of a lady getting drunk and behaving in a silly manner. More alcohol is added to the punch at the masquerade to insure that the guests forget the unusual events of the evening.